Atlanta United used an own goal by Minnesota United in the first three minutes of the game, then relied on a defensive-themed effort as they played with 10 men for the final 55 minutes of the match for a 1-0 MLS road win Saturday night.
The tone of the game changed late in the first half when Leandro Gonzalez Pirez of Atlanta received his second yellow card of the game and was disqualified from the match.
The tempo was altered immediately over the last 10 minutes of the half. Atlanta (3-1-0), who had the better run of play, turned to a defensive posture for the remainder of the half.
Much of the same ensued after the break. From a statistical standpoint, Minnesota (2-3-0) dominated time of possession, but the control of the ball resulted in very few legitimate scoring chances.
Atlanta embraced the strategy to sit back on defense through the final 45 minutes, and even when they countered, no more than three players — if that — made runs down the field.
Atlanta was content to slow the game to a crawl throughout the second half and it vastly slowed the tempo.
Minnesota did find a few scoring chances as time wound down, but all went for naught behind some big stops from Atlanta goalie Brad Guzan, who finished with three saves.
The game couldn’t have started much worse for Minnesota. Less than three minutes into a game, an Atlanta corner kick was deflected by a Minnesota midfielder Ibson right at Minnesota goalie Matthew Lampson.
The Lampson blocked it but the ball bounced to Atlanta’s Hector Villalba. A quick header from Villalba was deflected off the cross bar by Lampson, but the rebound hit Francisco Calvo of Minnesota and bounced into the goal. Calvo was credited with an own goal, giving Atlanta what turned out to be the game winner.
—Field Level Media