"No. Neither of the players were offside. We confirmed it and they were not offside." — Tata Martino; Source: ATLUTD Quote Sheet
Over the past two matches — two Atlanta United losses to Vancouver Whitecaps and Chicago Fire — there’s been a worrying trend emerging in the post-match dialog and analysis. The itch for fans and/or media to blame the referees or outside forces for negative results is becoming more and more prevalent when Atlanta lose and it’s not helpful.
This was especially true after the frustrating 2-0 loss to the Fire on Saturday. Two big refereeing decisions went against Atlanta in both of the goals they conceded and another L went on their record. Immediately, without any visual evidence of the first goal being offside, except a terrible replay that pans to the actual play a full second late, many were leaning on that excuse instead of wondering why Michael Parkhurst decided to become Lionel Messi and attempt to dribble upfield past 10 players or why Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was unaware of where his fellow defenders were and was late to step-up. Tata Martino confirmed in his post-match interview that the play was indeed onside because LGP was late to react.
On the second goal, a penalty converted after Tyrone Mears was whistled for an obvious handball in the box, there were still some that didn’t want to admit that it was a correct call.
Sometimes being honest and saying that your favorite team’s performance isn’t up to snuff on the day is hard, but it’s also a necessary thing. If no one is around to criticize or put pressure on, the less of a chance there is that those mistakes will be addressed and ultimately corrected in the future. It does no good to lay blame at the feet of outside forces for Atlanta United’s failures when it’s not blatantly obvious they are the root cause of the problems.
Tito Villalba didn’t finish his chances. Tata Martino didn’t have his best players available. Both Parkhurst and LGP bottled their responsibilities on the first half goal. Tyrone Mears clearly handled the ball preventing a Chicago chance. It’s okay to be honest and admit these things. It doesn’t make you any less passionate of a fan or any less loyal. Atlanta United got outplayed and they lost. It will happen again and it’s okay to acknowledge it when it happens.