ATLANTA -- The Big Peach took a bite out of the Big Apple on Sunday at Bobby Dodd Stadium, as Atlanta United FC found a way to “atone” for their stinging 3-1 road defeat to New York City FC earlier this month by securing a victory by the same scoreline at home against Patrick Vieira's side.
The win, which also earned Atlanta a critical six points from their first back-to-back home stand of the season, came days after Hector Villalba described the rematch against NYCFC as a “revenge game.”
“They were the only team this season who’s really outplayed us,” said Villalba following tonight’s match. “Today we were able to get off on the right foot and we were able to flip the score on them and get the win. I think it’s important because we’ve been working really hard in practice to get a result like that.”
Villalba exacted some of that Atlanta revenge, providing an assist along with Julian Gressel on Miguel Almiron’s first goal, and scoring one himself in the 19th minute with a lovely curling strike into the right corner.
"[The road loss vs. NYCFC] was a game we wanted to forget,” Almiron said. “The level of the team is increasing. We have more patience, and we were able to get a win today.”
The front four of Atlanta as a whole made sure to get back to the aggressive approach that had worked so well for the expansion club early in the season. As they’ve done in 10 of their 12 matches this year, Atlanta scored first.
And while NYCFC had 11 shots on goal to Atlanta’s four in the previous match, both teams put three on frame on Sunday. Atlanta were the side to efficiently put their chances away, though.
“We talked that the game in New York was the biggest disappointment of the year,” said captain Michael Parkhurst. “It was our worst performance, and we got away from our style of play and we wanted to atone for that tonight.”
Added Gressel: “We watched a lot of video of that game. We knew what we had to do today to come out and be on top of them and win the game. We did a very, very good job of executing that game plan and winning that battle.”
At the post-game press conference, Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra praised his team for “not getting too low and just burying their heads” after the previous defeat to NYCFC.
“MLS is a little bit of a roller coaster,” Bocanegra said. “Coming back we wanted to show what we could do against these guys, but you hit some peaks and valleys in MLS.”
“For an expansion team we’re going to have to do a good job of not getting too high off of this win,” he added. “As long as we can stay pretty consistent, the whole year, that’s we’re hoping for.”