Atlanta United conceded two soft goals, including one at the death, to give the Montreal Impact all three points Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo. Here’s what we learned:
MLS referees have a red card problem
Is this going to sound like sour grapes? Yes, and I don’t care. This makes two weeks in a row in which an Atlanta United player has been a recipient of a questionable red card. In this case, the word “questionable” is a bit of an understatement. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, the innocent bystander who happened to be marking the Impact player who dove in the box, was sent off in extra time of the second half. Ignacio Piatti leveled the score by converting the penalty, but the field was clearly tilted against Atlanta United for the rest of the match. Atlanta did well to hold on for as long as they did, but in the end, you have to think this match would’ve turned out differently if not for the sending off. Tata Martino was forced to remove Julian Gressel, a which point Atlanta lost its numerical superiority in the middle of the park.
Incredibly, this is the fourth of Atlanta United’s six games in which the ref as administered a red card — three of which have gone against Atlanta. This red card in particular was pulled out quite hastily, and perhaps the ref would’ve done better to take some time to ask his assistant what he saw before changing the game in such a drastic an unnecessary way.
Kenwyne Jones proved he can deputize at striker
I wrote about the conundrum that is Kenwyne Jones this week, so I was happy to see him prove himself and play well. It’s quite clear that he’s second choice in the team and will remain so this season as long as Josef Martinez is healthy. But Jones capitlized on his opportunity as Montreal gave the ball away in its own half and Tito Villalba was able to slip in a ball to Jones, who cooly tucked it away with a first-time curling shot toward the bottom corner.
Anton Walkes shouldn’t be judged on his first appearance
You had to feel for Tottenham loanee Anton Walkes, who scored an own goal within a couple minutes after making his debut for Atlanta against New York Red Bulls. We hadn’t seen him appear in a game since then, so it was fair to wonder whether he was affected at all by such a traumatic experience. He came on at halftime and slotted in next to Michael Parkhurst in place of Gonzalez Pirez. He may not be as elegant or polished as his Argentinian counterpart, but he proved that he can certainly fill a valuable role in this team, especially if MLS referees continue to go ham against Atlanta United with the bullshit red cards (ahem, excuse me.)
Alec Kann was not at fault for the result
Despite the comical manner in which the game ended — a deflected ball that bounced off the post, off of Alec Kann, and into the net — the Atlanta United goalkeeper was hardly to blame for the points dropped today. He played well, not just for the majority of this game, but for most of the season. When Guzan arrives, he will be the unquestioned starter, but Kann has been better than I expected, to be perfectly honest.
Chris McCann needs to prove himself, because he didn’t today
Like Kenwyne Jones previously, the spotlight has now fallen on Chris McCann as the player on the roster who is 1) making a considerable amount of money (depleting cap space/allocation monies), 2) not seeing the field regularly, and 3) signed with Atlanta before Tata Martino’s arrival. No matter the player, the combination of these three components makes for a dicey situation, but at least with Jones, we can see glimpses of hope and optimism (which, personally, I need right now. Also a hug.) McCann, on the other hand, has been mediocre-to-poor. I’m still not sure what he’s particularly good at, and I don’t know what his best position is. I’m not sure he’s technical enough to force his way into Tata Martino’s midfield, and I don’t think he has the athleticism to play fullback in this system either.