ATLANTA – Gone in 60 seconds.
And not only do they strike fast, but they strike often. Atlanta continued to pour it on against the shorthanded Revolution, who had two players, Xavier Kouassi and Antonio Mlinar Delamea, see red cards from referee Baldomero Toledo after Video Review decisions. Atlanta didn’t take it easy on them, though, continuing to take the game to New England up until the 90th minute when Hector 'Tito' Villalba netted the seventh of the night.
“At halftime the message was to respect the game, respect the opponent, and to continue to play and not do anything out of the ordinary,” said Atlanta's veteran defensive midfielder Jeff Larentowicz after the match. “These guys want to win. They want to win in training. When they play ping pong. I’m sure they’re yelling at each other because they want to win and they bring it everyday.
To Atlanta, “nothing out of the ordinary” can be a frightening proposition for opponents. Miguel Almiron said Gerardo 'Tata' Martino’s halftime message to the team was to stay the course.
“I think we’ve always been strong at home, we’re able to control the ball. It’s just different at home when we’re here with our fans,” said Almiron. “After halftime, Tata told us to just stay calm and keep playing the same way, keep pressing, keep maintaining the ball and keep our patience.”
Despite leading 4-0 at halftime, Atlanta’s attack didn’t show any signs of complacency in the second stanza. And judging by their reactions, Yamil Asad and Kevin Kratz looked like they’d scored game-winning goals, not adding to a lopsided score line.
"I’m really happy with the game and happy with the result, but happier because we’re improving as a team,” said Almiron. “We can’t focus on just this result. We already have to look to Orlando [on Saturday] because we know that’s a very important game.”
While United will try to move on quickly from this emphatic victory, they will also likely remember it for a long time.
Martinez, Atlanta’s Man of the Match thanks to a first-half hat trick, was asked if he’d ever accomplished such a feat before.
“No. Only on Playstation,” he quipped, “with Real Madrid!”