In no particular order, here are a few of my thoughts about Atlanta United’s preseason opening 4-0 win in Chattanooga:
- Miguel Almirón and Tito Villalba will be a dynamic duo: Villalba consistently pinched in from the right side the combine with Almirón. Their two-man counterattack that led to the first goal demonstrated their devastating speed.
- Yamil Asad’s scrappiness: One of the knocks on Asad from Velez Sarsfield fans was that he was not a hard worker. While he had some mistakes in possession early, Asad kept working hard. His effort was rewarded with an incredible goal, but it was his workrate that impressed me about his game.
- Kenwyne Jones on defensive set pieces: The sequence that led to the first goal started with a Chattanooga corner kick. Jones won three headers in the box, with the final one finding Almirón near midfield. While Atlanta’s backline might be slightly undersized, Jones will be a huge asset defensively when needed.
- Shape: In the attack, the outside backs looked to get forward early and often. One of the central midfielders would tuck in to make a three-man backline when this happened. Defensively, the wingers would drop in to make the shape look like a 4-4-1-1. In the second half, the base shape looked more like a 4-1-4-1 with Kratz and Gressel in front of Carmona (and later Heath).
It was always going to be a tough day for Chattanooga FC, but they lost their best attacking threat five minutes into the game due to injury. Luke Winter’s substitution made it tough for them to mount any sort of consistent threat. Atlanta’s backline was rarely tested, something that will not be the case in Charleston next week.
All in all, it was a solid debut for the Red & Black and a good starting point for Tata Martino to build on.
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