Almost all the scoring took place over the course of a frantic first half. Atlanta jumped in front after just two minutes through Ronaldo Cisneros, but a goal from Chinoso Offor tied things up for Chicago. The hosts restored their advantage soon after thanks to Cisneros, and the forward secured a hat-trick and the match ball just past the half hour mark after scoring his third goal of proceedings. That sealed the result, but Atlanta decided to add one more in stoppage time after a quality finish from Brooks Lennon.
Story of the match
The hosts would open the scoring after just two minutes. Some really nice build up play led to Ronaldo Cisneros breaking free past the backline, and his shot somehow found the back of the net, taking a deflection before bouncing off the underside of the bar and in.
Chicago responded well, equalizing less than 10 minutes later. The ball was swung out wide to Xherdan Shaqiri in a dangerous area, and he hit an excellent low cross into the area. It picked out the run of Chinoso Offor, and he was able to finish off the move from close range.
Atlanta restored their lead shortly after, though. Making the most of a turnover in midfield, they moved the ball quickly up the left wing before Matheus Rossetto went for goal. His shot was saved, but the rebound fell right to Cisneros for an easy tap-in. Gabriel Slonina wasn’t necessarily at fault since his defense let him down, but he should be getting the ball a bit further away from danger.
The Fives Stripes simply refused to stop, grabbing a third goal past the half hour mark. This one was just too easy, as two passes led to Cisneros being played through on goal. He then did the rest, rounding the goalkeeper before passing the ball into the back of the net.
That was the last goal of a hectic first half that could have seen even more goals.
There was almost another moments into the second half. A cross towards the back post seemed like it was heading for three different Chicago players, but none of them were able to get in the right spot to convert. In the end, the opportunity went begging.
Things really died down for the rest of the final 45. The Fire didn’t really create any genuine chances, and Atlanta were able to do enough on and off the ball to secure the win and all three points, even adding a fourth goal through Brooks Lennon in stoppage time.
No Rafael Czichos, no party. Chicago’s captain was forced to miss this contest after picking up a stupid red card in the team’s last game, and his absence was certainly felt. The backline looked lost without their leader, and it wasn’t too shocking to see them concede a bunch before the day was done. Things weren’t supposed to be this bad, to be fair, but the defense’s performance in this match shows just how valuable Czichos is.
Boris Sekulić in particular was awful. He was the one mainly at fault for the first and third goal Atlanta scored, as he kept everyone onside. The second goal wasn’t really on him, but it came from his side, so that wasn’t a good look for him either. He didn’t help much going forward, either, so all in all it was a really poor showing from the Slovakian international.
Chicago were nowhere near full strength, but neither were Atlanta to be fair. If both teams had everyone available for selection then the final score would probably have been the same.
The Five Stripes have struggled without their main man Josef Martínez, but this showing from Ronaldo Cisneros should give them some hope for the near future. He did get some luck, with his first goal taking a deflection while his second was a simple rebound, but his third to seal the hat-trick was well done, as he rounded the keeper with confidence and composure. He probably won’t have another game like this, but if he can get a few more goals on the board before Martínez returns then that’ll be good enough for Atlanta.
Man of the match - Ronaldo Cisneros
Speaking of Ronaldo Cisneros, he was obviously the man of the match.
Scoring three in the first half, his movement was what led to all of his goals. The forward slipped in behind the backline for the first before ripping a shot that flew in off the underside of the bar, even if it was helped by a deflection. He was in the right place at the right time for the second, and the ball ultimately fell to him for a simple finish. The third and final was the best of the bunch, as he flew forward on the break before dribbling past Gabriel Slonina and passing the ball into the back of an empty net.
It was a much-needed performance from Cisneros, and he will hope to maintain this type of form going into the summer. Who knows, maybe he’ll do enough to earn some playing time even when Josef Martínez returns.