A 43rd-minute red card for goalkeeper Brad Guzan led Rocco Rios Novo to make his team debut for Atlanta United on Tuesday night. For Atlanta United, the relief exit was a revelation and a sign of its potential at this level.
Rios, on loan from Atlanta United 2 and previously with Lanus in Argentina, made several important saves scoring Atlanta United’s 1-0 victory over Alajuelense in the CONCACAF Champions League. With Guzan, the Atlanta United goalkeeper tandem made seven saves against one of the best clubs in Central America.
Rios was signed just two days before Champions League Atlanta United 2, the USL affiliate of the MLS club. He originally signed with Atlanta United 2 in March and, other than a few pre-season friendlies, had no first-team experience to speak of.
“I think all my previous experiences can only help me. Whether it’s experiences in Junior World Cups, or other matches in Argentina or in friendly matches here in the pre-season, ”Rios told reporters after the match. “I think it’s especially important for a goalkeeper to get minutes, so all of those experiences have helped me up to this point.
Despite his lack of professional experience, the young goalkeeper has appeared regularly for Argentina’s national under-17 team. He was born in Los Angeles but has spent his entire career so far in Argentina.
Guzan was sent off at the end of the first half after an errant pass from Atlanta United’s Ezequiel Barco forced him out of the penalty area. Sliding to make a tackle, Guzan made contact with Marcel Hernández Campanioni and eliminated the player from Alajuelense.
The right red card necessitated the insertion of Rios in the match. Atlanta United played the remainder of the game against a man.
A former US international and one of MLS’s most stable goalkeepers, Guzan will be sidelined in Atlanta United’s round of 16 second leg against the Costa Rican giants. This means that Rios will probably do it again.
“It was a very difficult game with all the circumstances of the game. Take a man down in the first half and play the whole second half against a man, ”Rios said. “The team had no choice but to come together like this and it was a difficult game.”
A Barco penalty goal in the 50th minute secured the important road result for Atlanta United.
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