The Five Stripes earn a crucial three points, but is there an indication that they can make the playoffs?
Fans left Mercedes-Benz Stadium with smiles on their faces after Atlanta United defeated DC United on Sunday by a score of 3-2. Unfortunately, I can't say that I was one of them.
While I am happy that the team managed to earn three points, move up to 11th place in the East and inch ever closer to a spot in the playoffs, the team's performance didn't give any indication that this team can get over the line.
The starting lineup was exactly the same as the one Gonzalo Pineda ran out last week at Columbus with a back three that morphs into a lopsided 4-3-3 when in possession.
Atlanta began the game in a worrying position, allowing DC to come onto them very easily and finding it troublesome to break their relentless pressure. Ultimately, the Five Stripes were able to exploit DC's high back line and create some interesting attacks. Atlanta recorded 11 shots in the first half alone with three of those shots going on target.
Despite Atlanta's attacking in the first half, they ended up conceding first when Ravel Morrison shot the ball from outside the box right past Rocco Rios Novo to put the visitors up 1-0.
However, the Five Stripes didn't delay in responding as Alan Franco headed one past David Ochoa to level the game at 1-1.
DC struck back minutes later as some poor marking in the box (and Rios Novo not coming out to claim a ball that was played three feet in front of him) allowed Ola Kamara, last year's Golden Boot runner-up, to give the Black and Red a 2-1 lead.
Atlanta was down but certainly not out. Two minutes after subbing on, Josef Martinez found the back of the net after a beautiful cross by Brooks Lennon into the heart of the 18-yard box. The score was level again at 2-2.
The Five Stripes continued to ride the momentum and took the lead when Juanjo Purata got on the end of another fantastic cross by Lennon to score his third goal with the team. The goal secured three points for Atlanta United as the final whistle blew with the scoreline at 3-2.
Was it a win? Yes. Was it a good win? Not at all. Atlanta ran into tons of trouble trying to break down DC's statistically terrible defense. What's more is that the Five Stripes will travel on Wednesday to face Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union who have put a total of 13 - you read that right - THIRTEEN GOALS past DC this season. Do you know how many goals Philadelphia conceded in those two games? Zero. Zilch. Nada. If Atlanta found it difficult to eke out a win against the Wooden Spoon leaders, I'm not sure how they're going to get a result against the team that's most likely going to represent the East in MLS Cup this year.
But enough with the pessimism. Atlanta won! The playoff dream lives! Go out, celebrate and live like there's no Wednesday!