While the first half was scoreless, it wasn’t without drama. D.C. United’s leading goalscorer, Taxi Fountas, found himself the target of the 5 Stripes' ire. Drawing fouls from the moment he stepped onto the field, it quickly became a dangerous situation for the striker. By the 29’ substitution that saw Ola Kamara enter the match for Fountas, he had taken too many hard knocks - including one to the head.
Early in the tense first half, Fountas and Ravel Morrison had both found opportunities for the Black-and-Red but missed their attempts. Although they were unable to find the net, they showed the type of early initiative D.C. needed.
Atlanta, not to be outdone, found chances of their own, with Luiz Araújo forcing a save from David Ochoa in the 7’. Making his second start in Black-and-Red (his first was against LAFC), Ochoa would go on to log a total of six saves throughout the game.
Officiating has certainly not been going D.C. United’s way. When head coach Wayne Rooney stepped up to contest calls he felt were putting his players at risk, he found himself booked with a yellow in the 45’ + 3’ before D.C. and Atlanta headed to the dressing rooms locked in a scoreless draw.
45 + 3' ⏱ | ATLUTD 0️⃣-0️⃣ D.C. United— D.C. United (@dcunited) August 28, 2022
Yellow card issued to #DCU Head Coach Wayne Rooney.
D.C. United has consistently been the first to concede this season, however, this afternoon yielded a nice surprise. Ravel Morrison found the back of Atlanta’s net just moments into the second half, taking his shot from outside the box and lobbing a rocket past Rios Novo in the 47’.
Atlanta United was quick to answer D.C. as Alan Franco capitalized on a set piece situation in the 49’ to head a ball past Ochoa and deep into the back left corner of the net.
Andy Najar made a breakaway run down the right wing, then flicked the ball back to a waiting Chris Durkin. Durkin spotted Ola Kamara and levied a cross that found him waiting right in front of Atlanta’s goal. Kamara snapped the ball into the net with a header in the 55’, putting D.C. in the lead once again.
Once again, D.C.’s lead wouldn’t last. 5 Stripes’ star striker Josef Martínez entered the match in the 60’ as a substitute for Ronaldo Cisneros and made an immediate impact. Brooks Lennon fired a cross that found an unmarked Martínez floating in the box, and he leaped into the air to whip the ball past Ochoa with a header in the 62’.
Try as D.C. United might, they were unable to find the lead again. Atlanta, however, found the game-winner in the 69’. when Brooks Lennon again found one of his teammates unmarked in the box. Juan Jośe Purata was able to deftly head in the game-winner, sealing the win - and all three points- for Atlanta with over 20 minutes to spare.
D.C. United next faces reigning MLS Champion NYCFC on Wednesday, August 31, at 8 pm ET.
- Missing in action, D.C.’s defense. D.C. United’s defense struggled against Atlanta, putting the bulk of the burden on David Ochoa. Ochoa was forced to six saves over the course of the match and gave up three goals as a result. Leaving an unmarked Josef Martínez was an absolutely avoidable mistake and one that cost the Black-and-Red dearly. Head coach Wayne Rooney said, “When you have especially Martínez, who you know is one the best goal scorers in the history of this league, and they allow him to be alone in the counter, you’re asking for trouble.”
- Officiating continues to frustrate the Black-and-Red. With the hard challenges to forward Taxi Fountas early in the first half and other contentious challenges as the 45’ wore on not drawing yellow cards, frustration continues to be the name of the game.
- Improvement, but D.C. still needs to be “braver” on the ball. Rooney was pleased with the first-half performance from his team but said, “I’ve said this since day one, we need to be a bit braver with the ball. But I think ultimately when you come away from home, you have to stay in the game. And then when the game opens up, you can take advantage of that.”
Watch highlights from Atlanta United vs. D.C. United
MLS Regular Season - Game 27
Atlanta United: 3 Franco 49’, Martínez 62’, Purata 69’
D.C. United: 2 Morrison 47’, Kamara 55’
Atlanta United: (3-4-1-1) Rocco Rios Novo, Alan Franco, Andrew Gutman, Juan Jośe Purata, Thiago Almada, Luiz Araújo (Franco Ibarra 85’), Santiago Sosa, Caleb Wiley (Marcelino Moreno 70’), Brooks Lennon, Ronaldo Cisneros (Josef Martínez 60’), Amar Sejdic (Edwin Mosquera 70’)
D.C. United: (4-3-2-1) David Ochoa, Tony Alfaro, Steve Birnbaum, Sami Guediri (Chris Odoi-Atsem 67’), Andy Najar (Donovan Pines 80’), Taxi Fountas (Ola Kamara 29’), Victor Pálsson, Ravel Morrison (Kimarni Smith 86’), Sofiane Djeffal (Jackson Hopkins 79’), Martín Rodríguez (Miguel Berry 79’)
Atlanta United: Purata 18’
D.C. United: Rooney 45’ + 3’