‘Caps fight hard, however can’t overcome controversial early red card in first visit to Atlanta


ATLANTA: Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2-1-0) made their first ever visit to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, but were unable to overcome a controversial early red card to Kendall Waston as they fell 4-1 to Atlanta United FC (2-1-0).

Carl Robinson made four changes to his starting lineup from the 2-1 win in Houston the previous weekend. Marcel de Jong (chest contusion), Russell Teibert, Yordy Reyna, and Kei Kamara (tight groin) came out. José Aja, Jordon Mutch, and Anthony Blondell all made their first starts for the ‘Caps, with Nicolás Mezquida joining them.

After an even first 10 minutes, the match was turned on it’s head. Atlanta sent in a free kick that resulted in a chance in on goal that was stopped by Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Stefan Marinović. However following that sequence of events, referee Ismail Elfath turned to Video Review, and in a turn of events a straight red card was issued to Waston, while awarding Atlanta a penalty kick. Josef Martínez scored on the penalty kick to give the home side the lead, and a one man advantage for the remainder of the match.

Atlanta would have several chances to extend their lead in the first half, but could not capitalize. On the other side, the ‘Caps battled hard, with Alphonso Davies looking especially lively bolting from one end of the pitch to the other.

The ‘Caps came out looking to attack in the second half, but Atlanta would double the lead in the 58th minute. Julian Gressel centred a ball that was unfortunate to go off the foot of Aaron Maund and into the net for a 2-0 score.

Moments after the restart, substitute Brek Shea was sent in on goal from the left flank and unleashed a shot on target from a tight angle, but Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan was there to stop him on a diving save. Quickly at the other end, Martinez was sent in on a breakaway and finished into the left corner to make it 3-0.

But the ‘Caps would not give up. On 85 minutes, a perfect ball over the top from Mutch found striker Erik Hurtado, who calmly slid it past Guzan to cut the deficit to 3-1. Barely a minute later, the ‘Caps broke forward with numbers as Mutch fed Shea, but the winger could not get a shot on goal.

While Vancouver were looking to press forward, Atlanta found one final goal when 17-year-old Andrew Carleton crossed to Martínez for a close header finish.

Whitecaps FC return home to BC Place this coming Saturday, March 24 when they face Western Conference rivals LA Galaxy.

Budweiser Man of the Match: Jordon Mutch
Referee: Ismail Elfath
Attendance: 45,003

Scoring Summary
15′ – ATL – Josef Martínez (penalty kick)
58′ – ATL – Aaron Maund (own goal)
60′ – ATL – Josef Martinez (Miguel Almiron)
85′ – VAN – Erik Hurtado (Jordon Mutch)
88′ – ATL – Josef Martínez (Andrew Carleton, Julian Gressel)

Possession: Atlanta 72.4% – Vancouver 27.6%
Shots: Atlanta 21 – Vancouver 6
Shots on Goal: Atlanta 4 – Vancouver 2
Saves: Atlanta 1 – Vancouver 1
Fouls: Atlanta 14 – Vancouver 8
Offsides: Atlanta 1 – Vancouver 4
Corners: Atlanta 7 – Vancouver 2

13′ – VAN – Efraín Juarez
45’+3 – ATL – Jeff Larentowicz
60′ – VAN – José Aja
72′ – VAN – Yordy Reyna

13′ – VAN – Kendall Waston

Atlanta United FC
1.Brad Guzan; 2.Franco Escobar, 3.Michael Parkhurst, 5.Leandro González-Pirez; 24.Julian Gressel, Darlington Nagbe, 18.Jeff Larentowicz (32.Kevin Kratz 60′), 16.Chris McCann; 10.Miguel Almirón; 15.Héctor Villalba (30.Andrew Carleton 78′), 7.Josef Martínez (9.Romario Williams 90′)

Substitutes not used
25.Alec Kann, 4.Greg Garza, 12.Miles Robinson, 28.Andrew Wheeler-Ominu

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Stefan Marinović; 18.José Aja, 4.Kendall Waston ©, 22.Aaron Maund; 28.Jake Nerwinski, 6.Efrain Juárez (29.Yordy Reyna 67′), 8.Felipe, 77.Jordon Mutch, 67.Alphonso Davies; 11.Nicolás Mezquida (20.Brek Shea HT); 9.Anthony Blondell (19.Erik Hurtado 55′)

Substitutes not used
12.Brian Rowe, 3.Sean Franklin, 13.Cristian Techera, 31.Russell Teibert