A pair of first half goals from Ezequiel Barco and Emerson Hyndman led Atlanta United to a 2-1 victory over Nashville SC in the club’s 2020 MLS Regular Season opener. Laurence Wyke, who signed a short-term loan agreement earlier in the day on Saturday, came on as a substitute at halftime for Franco Escobar, and helped keep a second-half clean sheet to preserve the victory.
Frank de Boer’s lineup, to kickoff the 25th Major League Soccer season was similar to Tuesday nights Concacaf Champions League second leg against Motagua. The full XI: Brad Guzan, Franco Escobar, Anton Walkes, Fernando Meza, Brooks Lennon, Eric Remedi, Emerson Hyndman, Pity Martínez, Ezequiel Barco, Pity Martínez, Josef Martinez.
Barco opened the scoring in the ninth minute after solid build-up play from Escobar and Josef Martinez. From his own half, Escobar dribbled around one defender and charged into the midfield where he combined with Martinez. Escobar’s ensuing pass was for Barco, who dummied, allowing the ball to go through Eric Miller. Barco then dribbled near the edge of the penalty area before unleashing a right-footed shot into the right corner.
Nashville equalized in the 28th minute from a set piece. Hany Mukhtar sent a free kick into the box that Walker Zimmerman played down and ultimately put into the back of the net for the club’s first-ever goal.
It didn’t take long for Atlanta to re-gain the lead, answering less than 10 minutes later in the 37th minute from Hyndman. Barco’s original corner kick was cleared back near the corner flag, where Barco again crossed into the box. The clearance barely reached the edge of the penalty area where Hyndman played down and ferociously struck into upper the right corner.
Atlanta went into the locker room up a goal, but needed to replace Escobar, who was injured toward the end of the half. Josef Martinez also left during the second half with an injury, but Atlanta held out behind Brad Guzan, who made three saves.