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Crewsing Through Preseason: A Closer Look at the 1-1 Draw with Memphis 901 in Athens for Atlanta United

by Madison Crews

Atlanta United’s second preseason match ends with a 1-1 draw against Memphis 901 in Athens, Georgia. We saw two different groups for each half from Atlanta which gave fans a better idea of how the MLS season would look. This was a fun match to attend, here are a few of my key moments from the match.

In the 2nd minute, Memphis F.C took the early lead with Nighte Pickering’s shot right from the edge of the 18. It was a long shot right to the left corner of the goal and there wasn’t much Josh Cohen could do to stop it.  That was obviously not the way Atlanta United wanted to start off the first half, but as the minutes counted down, the Five Stripes started to gain some momentum. 

It was great to see the new signing Bartosz Slisz get some minutes with the team. He had a few mistouches, but as the match continued, he started to get more comfortable on the pitch. 

One thing was clear, this game didn’t feel like a preseason friendly. Memphis wanted the win and so did Atlanta. It was a very gritty match and there were a total of 30 fouls, 11 for Memphis and 19 for Atlanta. 

“We got to be ready for the punches that are going to get thrown at us. As long as we are ready for the fight, our footballing ability is going to outclass a lot of teams,” said Brooks Lennon after the game yesterday. “We are going into every preseason game with the right mentality like it is a regular season game so that when that first game comes around against Columbus, we are ready.”

This quote really speaks volumes especially with how well the second group played in the second half for Atlanta United. Jamal Thiare’s first goal with the Five Stripes to equalize in the 89th minute of the match. Javier Armas earned the assist on the goal. 

As the match went on, Atlanta became much more difficult for Memphis to play through and controlled possession. “In the first half, we were a little bit lost in the triggers and we were not together in certain movements to be compact and then press at the right moment,” said head coach Gonzalo Pineda. “I think the second half was great on that. The pressing triggers for the second group were amazing.” 

Now, I will leave you all with my MVP’s from each half for the Five Stripes: 

  • 1st Half: Xande Silva

  • Silva had some great touches this game and created a lot of opportunities. We saw some of the patented Silva magic in this game. I said it last night at Creature Comforts, but he surprises me every time he is playing. He had a very underrated performance which is why he is my MVP. 

  • 2nd Half: Javier Armas 

  • The No. 48 overall pick in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft has been a stand out since the first preseason game. He has a great presence in the midfield and I’m excited to see him grow throughout the season. 

Overall, this performance highlights the resilience of Atlanta United when they go down a goal. This needs to be carried over into the regular season if the team wants to see success. This game also proves again how impactful these younger players can be for this squad. It makes me very excited for the future of this team with all of the players from Atlanta United II and the Academy. 

The Five Stripes are next heading to St. Petersburg, Florida to play their next two preseason matches, followed by a closed door preseason friendly with Sporting Kansas City in Ft. Lauderdale. I will leave you all with a quote from Noah Cobb about how the rest of the preseason should go. 

“The goal has to be to win every single game. There is a saying, ‘winning is a habit,’” said Cobb. “I think there are times during the season where you're not necessarily playing your best, but if you can still scrap together those results then that is what can push you into that top four. I think also making sure that we are really coming together as a group and the locker room is really solid.” (Photos courtesy of ATLUTD)

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