US Open Cup Final Ratings: Pity, Opara, Josef, Molino earn top marks

Atlanta United ably kept their trophy train rolling through August with a 2-1 triumph over game U.S. Open Cup final guests Minnesota United on Tuesday night.

The hosts went straight to the front foot, hitting twice in the opening 16 minutes. The Loons were able to make Atlanta's life much more difficult after the break, getting more pressure on the ball in the center of the park park and a lead-halving goal to go with it.

In the end, the Five Stripes were able to hold off the visitors' late charge minus the ejected Leandro Gonzalez Pirez to set off another confetti party at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Minnesota United

Vito Mannone (6.5) — While the Minnesota 'keeper surely had to find a better way to deal with the deflected cross that dropped into his net, he fought back with three big saves to keep his side in the game.

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Roman Metanire (5.5) — One of the best right backs in the league this season had major struggles at both ends during the opening frame. Metanire did not close down rushes into his corner aggressively enough, and it came back to bite him on Atlanta's decisive second strike. He finally looked himself again after the break.

Michael Boxall (5) — The Kiwi defender had his moments at the back, but honestly, a couple of his best stops were likely fouls on another day. More distressingly, Boxall should wish to pull some hair out over a couple of woefully squandered chances on attacking restarts.

Vito Mannone and Michael Boxall | USA Today Sports Images

Ike Opara (8) — The headband man was large and in charge for the visitors. Opara single-handedly turned away several threatening Atlanta advances, often with a bit of sandpaper thrown in. With the Loons desperate for an equalizer, Opara pushed forward to twice come close to getting them one (once with an accurate low drive and once with an expert knockdown).

Chase Gasper (6.5) — It would be harsh indeed to fault the young left back on Atlanta's icebreaker, as he tracked his man and got a piece of the cross that somehow fluttered past Mannone. All in all, it was a rather professional effort from Gasper, even if he'll lose sleep over missing a golden chance to tie the game in the 72nd minute.

Ozzie Alonso (5) — It was a hot and cold first half for the veteran gatekeeper, who had several genuine moments of smooth function play wrapped around a failure to track the late runner/scorer on Atlanta's winner. In the second half, he got away with both a poor clearance and what should have been his walking papers for a second yellow-card offense.

Hassani Dotson (4.5) — When the rookie was able to fan out wide in possession, his game came alive. Unfortunately, those occasions were rare as Dotson was miscast as sort of an auxiliary pivot man. He did far too little to stem trouble coming Minnesota's way and didn't pass well out of it, either.

Jan Gregus (7) — There's always so much to admire in the Slovak's cool passing game, whether he's linking through midfield or delivering tasty restarts. Like his central triangle partners, Gregus often came up missing when Atlanta was motoring toward the away area.

Kevin Molino (8) — Simply put, Molino was the Loons' engine in this one. The Trinidad & Tobago attacker knifed through Atlanta's end from every angle, creating dangerous rushes until he picked out Lod for the would-be comeback starter.

Robin Lod (7) — Not all of the Finnish attacker's final-third decisions were apt, but he still managed to cause trouble in various ways. Lod authored one ace cross into the box and eventually pulled Minnesota to within one with a tidy goal.

Mason Toye (6) — The young forward's wheels troubled Atlanta and he contributed some connective play, but was never able to find the big chance he was after.

Coach Adrian Heath (7) — One can't quibble much with the boss' ideas in this tough loss. Playing Dotson inside was a miss, but Heath made the right halftime adjustment by pushing his men up the field to give his side a rally shot.

Subs

Ethan Finlay (6) — The winger was able to run Minnesota onto their heels a few times, but better deliveries were required.

Darwin Quintero (6) — The Loons ace was more of a possession organizer than cutting-edge threat, and in all fairness the visitors needed some of the latter in his 15 minutes.

Abu Danladi (-) — Barely a presence in his cameo.

Atlanta United

Brad Guzan (7) — After having his feet up in the first half, the home netminder was forced to clock in after intermission. It's true that Guzan got away with a cross catch fumble, but it's the two big late saves to protect their one-goal lead that will be remembered in Atlanta.

Julian Gressel (7) — The right-sider was decent defensively and routinely menaced down the flank, but his services into the area were not as pinpoint as usual. Gressel finally got his setup game right just in time for the hosts to be forced to go conservative thanks to the Gonzalez Pirez ejection.

Miles Robinson (8) — Time and again, the young defender repelled Minnesota attacks, and in just about every manner you could dream up. Last-man pocket picks? Aerial command? Transition body positioning? Diving clearances? Sure, whatever you want. Robinson brought it all.

Leandro Gonzalez Pirez (5) — He didn't get credit for the goal, but the defender's surprise stampede to the right flank was the spark for Atlanta's opener. Gonzalez Pirez was solid other than that – that is, up until he picked up two unnecessary bookings to leave his side shorthanded for the final 16-plus minutes of a trophy match. That'll dock your grade.

Florentin Pogba (7) — The lanky left back was downright elegant in the first half. When Pogba wasn't cleanly stripping up-to-stride ball carriers, he was wisely passing out of the back. There were, however, a couple of big mistakes after the break. He was cut out by the key throughball on the Loons' goal play and could have easily been punished for a too-cute clearance whiff with about 20 minutes left. The Frenchman sorted himself late to make important clearances.

Eric Remedi (7) — While the Five Stripes scrapper came up with a couple of important defensive stops, his real value on the night came from ball movement between the midfield stripe and the attacking third. Remedi was very often the conduit before the pass before the pass.

Darlington Nagbe (7) — While this outing wasn't quite as assertive as his Campeones Cup masterwork, Nagbe still performed his assorted midfield administration duties. He provided, safely moved the ball in a positive manner and made some clever interventions in the Atlanta end.

Ezequiel Barco (7.5) — The youngster teamed with his countryman Martinez to establish a pony express from Atlanta's end to the final third. Barco's turns out of trouble were key to the home side's early dominance.

Pity Martinez (8.5) — The No. 10 shirt wasted little time revving into playmaking gear, and early on it looked as though he might slickly pass through every narrow corridor in Minnesota's half. As such, it came as little surprise when his nifty throughball led to the opening goal. Mere moments later, Martinez took one of his own with a deft finish from a patient run into a pocket of area space.

Justin Meram and Pity Martinez celebrate | USA Today Sports Images

Justin Meram (7.5) — It was another nice new chapter in the story of Meram's deep-south resurrection, as he supplied the feed for the stand-up winner. He often found space on the left and used it to ask tricky questions of Minnesota's back line. However, it must be said that he could have offered more help tracking back.

Josef Martinez (8) — Of course, the goal predator created havoc in the area looking for chances (he was coldly denied on the best one). This performance, though, was so much more than his usual fox-in-the-box tricks. Martinez repeatedly pulled center backs out by dropping deep, from where he'd then release teammates. A couple of his cutting lead passes were exquisite. He even cleared out a few corners. A big display, just not the one you'd expect.

Coach Frank de Boer (8) — Finally, the Dutchman made all the right calls in a big game. De Boer's men came out hungry from the jump, and when the red card necessitated key alterations, he made the right ones to see out a well-earned lead.

Subs

Emerson Hyndman (5.5) — No disasters, but the midfielder did not impact the game in 20 minutes.

Franco Escobar (5.5) — The right back made a couple of stops near the end, but he also committed the sin of losing an area mark named Opara in stoppage time.

Jeff Larentowicz (6) — Ten minutes of work generally doesn't draw a grade, but it was intense 10 minutes and the veteran helped Atlanta keep the Loons at bay.

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