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Atlanta, Ga– The Atlanta United FC (7-2-1, 22 points) fought hard but couldn’t get over the hump after losing their goal keeper and leader Brad Guzan to fall 2-0.
Sporting Kansas City (7-2-2, 22 points) had a big chance to score when Khiry Shelton had a one-on-one with goal keeper Brad Guzan in the 34th-minute. The lead pass was a little long and Guzan attempted to kick the ball away and ended up missing and tackling Khiry who flipped over. Guzman was issued a red card. “I just missed it [ball] and take him down. It is what it is,” stated Guzan
Both teams came out aggressive playing with speed but the defenses were able to stop the penetration.
Early on in the 6th-minute, Atlanta was on the attack and got the ball deep in the 18-inch yard box. Ezekiel Barqo tried to pass to Hector Villalba but the pass was blocked by Matt Besler and Josef Martinez collected the ball, turned and scored. After a review, it was later called offsides on Martinez.
Staying in attack mode, the United squandered many scoring chances early on while being able to dissect Kansas City’s defense.
Reserve goal keeper Paul Christensen, who came in to came in to replace Guzan in the 37th minute made his presence felt early on.
In the beginning of the second half, Kansas City had an opportunity to capitalize on the young Christensen. Johnny Russell had a breakaway and attempted to strike the ball but Christensen was able to make a save with his chest in the 49th-minute. “Learning from Brad, Alec [Khan] and Mitch [Hilderbrandt] helps my game improve a lot,” said Christensen.
The game was evenly played although Atlanta was short their best goalie and a man. Christensen got tested in the 67th-minute as Daniel Salloi shot outside the 18-inch yard inch box that bended right by Christensen for the goal.
In the 84th-minute, Kevin Kratz who replaced Jeff Larentowicz had a free kick off of a handball right outside the 18-inch yard box. High archer was blocked by goal keeper Tim Melia.
In the 87th minute, Gerso Fernandez took advantage of one-on-one with Christensen, juked him and scored in an open net to seal the game.
Atlanta United 0, Sporting KC 2
Shots: 18-17 Sporting KC
Shots on Target: 8-3 Atlanta
Corner kicks: 9-3 Atlanta
Fouls committed: 13-10 Sporting KC
Saves: 8-1 Sporting KC
Clearances: 21-17 Sporting KC
Offside: 2-0 Atlanta
Possession: 56-44 Sporting KC
Passing Accuracy: 89-80 Sporting KC
SKC – Daniel Salloi (Ilie Sanchez) 67’ [HIGHLIGHT]
SKC – Gerso Fernandes [HIGHLIGHT]
ATL – Jeff Larentowicz (yellow) 31’
ATL – Brad Guzan (red) 34’
SKC – Matt Besler (yellow) 89’
Atlanta United Starting Lineup
Brad Guzan; Greg Garza, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst ©, Sal Zizzo; Jeff Larentowicz (Kevin Kratz – 76’), Darlington Nagbe; Ezequiel Barco, Miguel Almirón, Tito Villalba (Paul Christensen – 36’); Josef Martinez (Romario Williams – 76’).
Substitutes not used: Mikey Ambrose, Miles Robinson, Julian Gressel, Brandon Vazquez.
Sporting Kansas City Starting Lineup
Tim Melia; Jimmy Medranda, Matt Besler, Ike Opara, Graham Zusi; Yohan Croizet (Cristian Lobato – 71’), Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza; Daniel Salloi, Khiry Shelton (Diego Rubio – 90+1’), Johnny Russell (Gerso Fernandes – 82’).
Substitutes not used: Eric Dick, Seth Sinovic, Jaylin Lindsey, Emiliano Amor.
Mark Geiger (referee), Joe Fletcher (assistant), Frank Anderson (assistant), Jose Carlos Rivero (fourth), Edvin Jurisevic (VAR).
United Team Notes
- Jeff Larentowicz started his 348th career MLS game, good for sixth place all-time in league history by a field player.
- Larentowicz also appeared in his 367th career game, moving him into sixth place all-time in league history by a field player (passing Bobby Boswell).
- Paul Christensen became the fifth goalkeeper to play in club history.
- Sal Zizzo made his first start with Atlanta United.
- It was the first time Atlanta was shutout at home during the regular season in club history.
- It was also only the second regular-season loss for Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
- Christensen made one save.