ATLANTA – The winning formula for Atlanta United is simple: They like to build the attack out of the back when they have possession, press the opposing team when they don’t and finish chances with ruthless efficiency.
Atlanta were unable to execute on this seemingly straightforward game plan in back-to-back 3-1 losses at the turn of May, the first at home against D.C. United and the second away to New York City FC. But since that game in the Bronx, Atlanta have turned a corner with a solid three-match run of form, starting with a 1-1 draw against the Portland Timbers and last week’s 4-1 defeat of the Houston Dynamo, and continuing with their impressive 3-1 win over NYCFC on Sunday.
Atlanta’s offense continues to be the league’s most potent with 27 goals scored, as well as its most clinical. They needed just seven minutes to score three goals against NYCFC, with Miguel Almiron and Hector “Tito” Villalba converting all three of their combined shots into goals.
Almiron has seven goals on the season from only 14 shots on goal, which explains why Atlanta’s “The Hype Depot” supporters section has taken to chanting: “Miggy Almiron, he scores when he wants, he scores when he wants.”
Atlanta remain near the bottom of the league in total shots with 132, ahead of only D.C. and the Colorado Rapids. ATL UTD sit in the middle of the pack with 55 shots on goal, but they’ve converted 49 percent of these chances, putting them well above Portland, who have the next-highest rate of 40 percent.
Coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s intense, high-press style of play earns possession in dangerous positions in their opponent’s final third, which partly explains why they’ve finished so well this season. Against NYCFC, Atlanta’s front four of Almiron, Villalba, Yamil Asad and Julian Gressel harried City’s backline throughout the first half.
“Our pressure up front was fantastic,” said Parkhurst. “I can’t even count the number of balls [the…