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Atlanta United falls at home to FC Dallas, 2-1

ATLANTA — Atlanta United remains winless at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Major League Soccer play this season. The Five Stripes fell against FC Dallas, 2-1, in front of an announced crowd of 43,351 Saturday afternoon.

Dallas scored early and late. In the sixth minute, the speedy Michael Barrios found space running down the right wing. Barrios played a curling ball behind the Atlanta defense to Jesús Ferreira, who calmly finished with a low shot past Brad Guzan. Atlanta centerback Leandro González Pirez left his feet in an attempt to win the ball off Barrios near midfield, but González Pirez came away empty. That left the Colombian free to run into Dallas’ attacking third.

Barrios once again was free on the right wing in the 84th minute. With Atlanta left open as it pushed forward for an equalizer, he played another ball into the box. This time, an unmarked Bryan Acosta, who subbed on for Ferreira in the 72nd minute, was there for a first-time finish. Centerback Miles Robinson was unable to close down Barrios to prevent the cross, and González Pirez trailed Acosta running into the box.

Josef Martínez converted a penalty in the seventh minute of stoppage time after VAR determined Brek Shea was fouled in the Dallas 18-yard box. Martínez took five shots and put three on target, but he was mostly marked out of the game with Dallas playing three centerbacks. The Venezuelan’s first shot came in the 79th minute.

The final scoreline and result were not entirely fair to Atlanta. Frank de Boer’s team dominated with 71 percent possession and used its time on the ball to create plenty of danger. The Five Stripes took 22 shots and put eight on target. Nevertheless, Dallas was well-organized in defense and rarely gave Atlanta clean looks at goal.

Atlanta did not look as sturdy in defense, and Dallas threatened with counter attacks on multiple occasions. Guzan made four saves.

Ezequiel Barco was the Five Stripes’ best player for the second consecutive week, and he was the focal point of Dallas’ defensive strategy. Barco suffered six fouls as he burst into space around Dallas’ defensive third throughout the game. He took five shots and put two on target. Barco was denied by the goal frame twice, hitting the post on a shot from the top of the box in the first half and pinging the crossbar with a free kick in the second.

Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez, still not fully recovered from a hamstring injury. Entered the game for Hector “Tito” Villalba in the 65th minute. Pity Martinez played two key passes into the box that led to shots, but he did not have a great influence on the game.

Apr 20, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira (27) celebrates after a goal against Atlanta United in the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Dion Pereira replaced Julian Gressel in the 80th minute. It was the club debut for the 20-year-old who signed with Atlanta from Watford in the offseason.

Paxton Pomykal, the 19-year-old academy product who has broken out as a star for Dallas this season, had an uneventful game. The attacking midfielder took one off-target shot and was fouled four times. 

The loss ended a 15-game unbeaten run at home in all competitions for Atlanta. The Five Stripes now sit on five points with a 1-3-2 record. Dallas improved to 5-2-1, good for 16 points.

Atlanta will attempt to return to the win column next Saturday at home against the Colorado Rapids. Dallas is in action the same day at home against the San Jose Earthquakes.

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