Atlanta United was faced with a daunting task heading into Sunday's match against Inter Miami CF. Without Thiago Almada and Gonzalo Pineda due to suspension, Josef Martinez returning from injury, and Rocco Rios Novo making his first MLS start at goalie, it was unsure what the club would look like in their return from international break. In short, dominant.
The team played well with Rob Valentino stepping in as coach with Pineda suspended. Luiz Araújo got it going early scoring a goal in the 4th minute of match play, giving United a 1-0 lead. Josef Martinez assisted on the goal. That would be all the goals needed to win this match, but the pair weren't done.
The second half saw the pair working together again to get another goal in the 61st minute of the second half. This time with Martinez scoring and Araújo assisting.
Josef Martinez looked fine and healthy in his return from a knee procedure back in April, outside of some clear fatigue in the final minutes. However, that wasn't the most impressive performance of the day.
19-year-old, Rocco Rios Novo, made his first MLS start at goalie and was stellar. Getting a clean sheet and keeping Inter Miami CF out of the net despite twelve shots, three of which were on goal. Valentino said of the performance post game, "Its incredible...What he's doing at that age...It makes me think back to where I was at 19."
The win gets United over .500 on the season. Now sitting at 5-4-5 which is good for 9th in the Eastern Conference.