Atlanta United handed CF Monterrey their first defeat of 2019 in competitive action, but it wasn’t enough to help them advance to the semifinals of the 2019 Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday. The 1-0 second leg win by the Five Stripes at Mercedes-Benz Stadium left them on the wrong end of a 3-1 aggregate-goal scoreline.
Atlanta’s hopes of advancing in their first Champions League foray were largely dashed after conceding two late goals in last week’s first leg in Mexico, leaving a massive 3-0 deficit to overcome.
Atlanta had an edge in possession for nearly the entire second leg, and their connections in the middle third of the field were crisp, but they struggled to break down Monterrey’s defense and most of their shots were from outside the 18-yard box, which tended not to trouble goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero.
Monterrey had two chances in the 73rd minute, as attempts from Rogelio Funes Mori and Aviles Hurtado both clanged off the woodwork before Atlanta cleared the danger.
But the home side got on the board four minutes later, as a pass against the grain from Darlington Nagbe found Josef Martinez, who made no mistake with his shot.
Martinez & Co. came close on a couple of occasions in the final 13 minutes, but the home side could not add any more goals, bowing out of the competition.
- 77′ – ATL – Josef Martinez
Atlanta United (3-4-3):Brad Guzan — Jeff Larentowicz, Michael Parkhurst (Florentin Pogba 76’), Miles Robinson — Eric Remedi, Mikey Ambrose, Darlington Nagbe, Julian Gressel — Ezequiel Barco (Kevin Kratz 76’), Gonzalo Martinez (Hector Villalba 65’), Josef Martinez
CF Monterrey (4-4-2):Marcelo Barovero — Johan Vasquez, Nicolas Sanchez, Cesar Montes, Miguel Layun — Aviles Hurtado (Maximiliano Meza 81’), Jonathan Gonzalez, Jesus Gallardo, Carlos Rodriguez (Celso Ortiz 90+1’) — Rogelio Funes Mori, Rodolfo Pizarro
- THE BIG PICTURE: Atlanta won a series in their first foray in CCL, but it was too much to do it against one of the top teams in Mexico. Ending with a win is a small consolation, but Frank de Boer’s group can use this victory to try and gain momentum and get on track after a shaky opening two games of the MLS season.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: No surprise, Martinez’s goal gave the game a real lift after it seemed certain to end 0-0.
GOAL! What a finish by @JosefMartinez17! | @ATLUTD 1 – 0 @rayados #SCCL2019 #ATLvMTY pic.twitter.com/Ar8JET5AOa
— Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (@TheChampions) March 14, 2019
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Hector “Tito” Villalba came off the bench to play just 25 minutes, and didn’t get on the scoresheet, but the attacker’s introduction into the game lifted his team and helped give Atlanta late hope they could embark on a legitimate rally in the series.
- ATL: Sunday, March 17 vs. Philadelphia Union (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; on DAZN in Canada)