Atlanta United eliminated its chances to secure thfirst seed after falling 1-4 to NYCFC at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Because NYCFC plays in a baseball stadium, the field dimensions are extremely different than any other field in Major League Soccer. It is much narrower, which forced Atlanta United to play much differently than it normally does. Atlanta United was also missing a multitude of important players such as Josef Martinez, Julian Gressel, and Ezequiel Barco.
Hector “Tito” Villalba made his first start since May and filled in at the left wingback position for Justin Meram. Florentin Pogba stepped into the backline because Franco Escobar moved to the right wingback role for the injured Julian Gressel.
NYCFC opened the scoring in the 13th minute through Alexandru Mitrita, who confidently took on Atlanta’s entire defense on his own and sent a curling effort on the ride side of the goal.
In the 21st minute, Mitrita scored his second goal of the night after picking up the ball deep in Atlanta’s half and beating Atlanta defender Leandro Gonzales-Pirez and goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Two minutes later, NYCFC was on the scoresheet again after Mitrita scored a simple tap in and his third of the night, completing his first half hattrick (three goals in one game).
Atlanta forward Brandon Vazquez won Atlanta United a penalty in the 51st minute, which Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez put away confidently. However, NYCFC would have the last laugh as they secured their win by scoring their 4th goal in the 87th minute.
Because of this loss, Atlanta United is eliminated in contention for the first seed, but it has already secured a first-round home playoff match, meaning they will finish in either the second or third seed. Atlanta United has two regular-season games remaining, with one on Sunday against the Montreal Impact. Atlanta’s last game will be at home against the New England Revolution on October 6th.
Photo Credits: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports
Kyle Soto is a volunteer at The Wolf. Follow him on Twitter @kyledsoto for more soccer content.