*Featured Image –Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP

Final Score: Atlanta 1 – 2 Montreal

Man of the Match: Kenwyne Jones

Well, that was disappointing. Through 92 minutes, a 10-man Atlanta United looked likely to escape from Stade Saputo in Montreal with an away draw.  Two minutes and one impressive Jackson-Hamel redirect later and Atlanta leaves Montreal with the first loss of their four game road stretch.

Atlanta came out in a 4-2-3-1 that looked like this:

Atlanta United Line-up vs. Montreal 4/15
Photo Courtesy of Atlanta United

In the first half the game was rather even, with Atlanta enjoying a bit more of the possession and Montreal threatening on the counter with Piatti, Mancosu, and Oduro.  Villalba and Almiron looked particularly threatening and were very active on and off the ball.  Atlanta pressed well as a team and got the opener due to a misplaced pass from Montreal keeper, Evan Bush. Two quick passes after the interception, and Kenwyne Jones cooly finishes from the top of the 18 for his first for Atlanta.

The joy was short lived. Less than 10 minutes later, centerback Pirez was whistled for a foul on Mancosu in the penalty box, resulting in a PK and a red card to Pirez.  It was the second red card to Atlanta in the last two games.  The PK was well taken by Ignacio Piatti and just evaded the reach of Alex Kann as it was tucked in the bottom right corner of the goal. The PK tied the game up right before halftime.

The second half saw Atlanta frustrate the home side by limiting their chances. Atlanta’s undermanned side stayed organized and fought off attack after attack.  It wasn’t until stoppage-time that Atlanta’s defense broke. A prayer of a shot from Bernadello was flicked by Montreal substitute Jackson-Hamel and trickled into the bottom right corner past a scrambling Kann.  The cheeky flick gave the home team a 2-1 advantage and sealed the game for Montreal.  It was Montreal’s first win of the season.

Here are the top story lines from the game:

Pirez Red Card:

The major talking point of this game came in first half stoppage time, when Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was called for a foul in the penalty area on Montreal striker, Matteo Mancosu. Referee Alan Kelly judged that Pirez denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity, and sent Pirez off.  The controversial decision left Atlanta United to fight the entirety of the second half down a man.

http://matchcenter.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2017-04-15-montreal-impact-vs-atlanta-united-fc/details/video/100481

The red card changed the game (as they normally do), and forced Martino to make a change at the half. Anton Walkes came on for Julian Gressel, to help fill the gap in central defense.  Overall, Walkes had a good outing filling in for Pirez, as he notched 7 clearances in or around the penalty area. He wasn’t the only one who put in a good shift in the second half. Everyone worked well together and even when down to 10 men, Atlanta United limited Montreal’s chances.  Montreal only had 2 shots on goal during the second half.

Jones From The Start:

We have all been wondering when Kenwyne Jones would get his chance in the starting 11.  He was given that chance against Montreal and showed well while getting his first goal for the Five Stripes.  After a turnover in the 40th minute, Jones received a pass from Hector Villalba at the top of the 18, and hit it first time past the onrushing Evan Bush to open the scoring, and give Atlanta the 1-0 lead late in the first half.  He then proceeded to celebrate with some nice flips.  Come for the goal and stay for the celebration:

http://matchcenter.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2017-04-15-montreal-impact-vs-atlanta-united-fc/details/video/100477

It is great to see Jones open his Atlanta account, but he did much more than score the opener.  He was active holding the ball up and did well when under pressure. He gave Atlanta United a different look than we have seen during previous games.

Kenwyne Jones
Photo Courtesy of Atlanta United

Defensive Depth:

When Pirez was sent off, Martino subbed in 20 year old, Anton Walkes to hold the fort in central defense. Walkes had a solid shift alongside captain Michael Parkhurst, but he wasn’t the only defender that was called into action this week that hasn’t seen much playing time.

With Ignacio Piatti, Montreal’s greatest threat, back from injury, it fell to Marietta native, Mark Bloom to limit Montreal’s chances from the left wing.  Mark Bloom was filling in for Tyrone Mears who was out with injury. Overall, Bloom held his own against one of the league’s best attackers although he did have a couple of moments where Piatti got the better of him.

Final Thoughts:

Considering the controversial red card, Atlanta United looked good in the first half and very well organized during the second.  A positive showing, even if it isn’t indicated in the final score. They will need to regroup for their fourth straight road game at Real Salt Lake.

Next Game: 4/22- 9:30 EST-  Atlanta United FC at Real Salt Lake

What do you think?  Was it a red card? How did you think Jones performed? Give me your thoughts in the comments below:

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If you give me a good cup of coffee, a biscotti, and some Atlanta United soccer, I'm the happiest man in the world. Tweet at me: @MCannSoccer

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