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The Daily Dirt, February 19: Lessons learned

Preseason is all about learning, and Columbus taught Atlanta some things yesterday

Dave Williamson Photography

Yesterday’s game brought many new challenges to Atlanta United. They faced MLS competition for the first time, and the Columbus Crew deployed one of the best attacking midfields in the league. They had to deal with travel issues that required the team to take a bus to Charleston on Friday, the five hour trip changed the team’s preparation a bit.

Even with that, United still started out brightly and Josef Martinez notched his second goal in as many games.

Tata Martino told the the assembled press after the game:

“I have to say the first 15 minutes, we pressed well, we had chances on goal, we scored a goal, but after the pressure was tough for us, and we changed our shape to see if we could fall back a little and we did a little better.”

Facing an attack with players like Higuain, Meram, and Finlay was a great test for Atlanta at this stage of preseason. Their pressing challenged Atlanta’s defense and the lessons learned from it will be great for players like Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Greg Garza, who have not played in MLS before. Michael Parkhurst told the media after the game:

“There’s things we need to work on. There were times, especially in the first half where Higuaín and Meram were giving us problems in the pockets. We adjusted that at halftime. To start the second half, I thought we did a much better job of condensing the space. But that’s what these games are for. We need to look at the tape and realize what we did well and what we didn’t.”

Fitness was also a challenge for Atlanta, as heavy legs were evident as the second half wore on. Passes became disconnected and the team became stretched as the Crew were obviously a fitter team at this stage of preseason. It has to be remembered that while other teams can focus on fitness primarily right now, Atlanta is also installing a system of play so they have to balance fitness work with tactical work.

These games are about the lessons learned and the work done rather results. Atlanta United has now added a game against MLS competition to their memory banks for 2017. They played on the front foot in Chattanooga and were forced to play on the back foot often against Columbus. These experiences will only serve to prepare them well for March 5 and the upcoming MLS season.


Domestic

In last night’s nightcap, Charleston earned a draw with the Seattle Sounders (USL)

Montreal Impact won 4-2 over DC United in St. Petersburg (Black and Red United)

New York Red Bulls fall 3-0 to Sporting Kansas City (The Blue Testament)

Derrick Jones’ goal leads the Philadelphia Union to a preseason win over Tampa Bay Rowdies (Brotherly Game)

Colorado Rapids defeat New England Revolution 3-1 in the Desert Diamond Cup (The Bent Musket)

Tommy Thompson needs to quit it. Ridiculous back-heeled goal for San Jose Earthquakes against Reno 1868:

Real Salt Lake re-signs two young stars to contract extensions (Salt Lake Tribune)

Jason Kreis runs to keep his edge (Orlando Sentinel)

U.S. U20’s fall in CONCACAF opener to a 10-man Panama (Stars and Stripes FC)

USL’s rise is a win-win for players and teams (LA Times)

Louisville City has identified a stadium site and is working to acquire the land (Louisville Courier-Journal)

International

Mario Balotelli doing Mario Balotelli things (Daily Mail)

Local