By Robyn Saghini @robynsaghini
Sunday March 12: 1-6 Win
I can’t begin to tell you how many weather reports for Minnesota I saw last week. Will it snow? How cold will it be at kickoff? Will it break a record? Turns out that Sunday’s Minnesota United vs Atlanta United game did break a couple of records – and not all due to the weather.
Lucky for me, I was warm and toasty at Fado Irish Pub in the Buckhead section of Atlanta with 100 or so of my closest friends watching the game. It was actually a bit chilly outside (in the 40s), but nowhere near as cold as it was in Minneapolis.
The weather did play a major factor in the game. The temperature hovered in the low 20s at kickoff, making it the coldest game in MLS history, just beating out the MLS Cup Final in Kansas City a few years ago. And the snow started to fall just before the game started and started sticking about 20 minutes in. It was so bad at one point that Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, ATLUTD’s left back, had to change his shoes because he couldn’t stay on his feet.
The other records, though, were of the goal variety.
Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez didn’t look remotely fazed by the weather as he opened his MLS account, probably because he spent some time playing in Switzerland. Three minutes into the game, Martinez ran straight through the Loons defenders and tapped the ball around John Alvbage. Ten minutes later, Miguel Almiron lofted a ball over Alvbage’s head into the roof of the net to make it 2-0 in favor of Atlanta. A quick pass from Almiron to Martinez in the 27th minute gave Josef a brace.
In the 30th minute, Jeff Larentowicz brought down Kevin Molino in the box and Minnesota were awarded a penalty, which caught Alec Kann going the wrong way. Kann did make up for it in first half stoppage time, though, with three back-to-back saves after a Minnesota corner kick that bounced around the box a few times.
The second half saw more goals by ATLUTD. Tito Villalba tried a cross to Martinez in the box, but it was deflected and bounced right in front of Almiron, who launched it into the back of the net with his (rather dangerous) left foot. Martinez earned his first hat trick after barreling through the Loons defense and skirting around the keeper again in the 75th minute. In the waning moments of the game, Greg Garza got a cross to a completely unmarked Jacob Peterson, who headed into the net.
I’m not much of an analyst – yet – but I can tell you Minnesota’s coaching staff needs to give some serious thought to their defensive strategy. There was no way their slow CBs were going to be able to keep up with our hyper-fast front line, snow or no snow. They were beaten – badly – every time. We’ll see where these two teams stand when they meet again later this season. In the extreme heat and humidity of Atlanta in August. One weather extreme to another.
The final tally was 6-1 in favor of Atlanta. A hat trick for Martinez, a brace for Almiron, and one goal for Peterson. Atlanta is the first expansion team to score six goals in a game their first season. It was the coldest game on record for MLS. And Martinez, Almiron and Garza all made the MLS Team of the Week, and coach Tata Martino was voted Coach of the Week. Not bad for some newbies!
The boys are back in ATL next Saturday for a 4pm game vs Chicago Fire. I am off to watch the highlights for Chicago’s first two games. I hear they’re starting off this season pretty well, so I’m eager to see how ATL does next week. See y’all then!
Featured image courtesy: Atlanta United FC facebook
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