Coming off a welcome 1-1 draw in Honduras on Tuesday night in the first leg of their Round-of-16 matchup versus FC Motagua in the CONCACAF Champions League, Atlanta United definitely has all the momentum heading into the second leg this Tuesday night in Kennesaw, GA.
Not only will the Five Stripes take the pitch at Fifth Third Bank Stadium even on the scoreboard, but due to CONCACAF format, that away goal they got from star striker Josef Martinez adds to the advantage they now hold. Should the two sides draw to a scoreless tie in the second 90 minutes of this bout, United would advance due to that goal.
During a conference call with media following the 1-1 draw of the first leg, Coach Frank de Boer said of his squad’s performance, “I think we did very well in getting prepared… I’m very happy with it.”
And why wouldn’t de Boer be happy? United traveled to Honduras missing a slew of players due to injury or visa issues and had to find a way to hang with a successful team in mid-season form. There were certainly miscues for United in this one, particularly on the defensive side, but veteran goalkeeper Brad Guzan made five saves, some spectacular, to limit Motagua to just the single netter.
Some of those players who were out of action this past Tuesday are expected to be available. A new addition during the offseason from Scottish Premiership, midfielder Jake Mulraney reportedly now has his visa in hand and could be in the mix for this upcoming Tuesday in Kennesaw. Mulraney is a “quality attacking player” according to United VP Carlos Bocanegra that was brought in to help makeup for the loss of Julian Gressel via trade.
Introducing our newest signing, Jake Mulraney. pic.twitter.com/Eewj0yxTSB
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) January 23, 2020
The additional reinforcements will only increase United’s strength in their attempt to advance to the Champions League Quarterfinals for the second straight year. Back at home, de Boer expects an even higher level of play from his club, stating “we can play more of our own style of play.”