Four home games, three weather delays. Hmm. Isn’t our stadium supposed to have a roof?
Forget Dos a Cero. 3-1 is now a thing. Good or bad. To date, 6 of Atlanta United’s 15 MLS games have ended in that scoreline, 3 wins and 3 losses. We already avenged one such loss to NYCFC with an identical scoreline; on Wednesday we get a chance to do the same or better with DC United (and get us to 2-1-0 in the United round robin).
However, we’re also into our first experience of compressed scheduling. In the 22 day stretch between June 10 and July 1, we have a total of 7 games, MLS and Open Cup combined, 4 of which are on the road. If we can get through this, we should feel much more comfortable with the extended (and largely home) compressed schedule in September. But hey, we’re talking ATLUTD here, so more is better, right?
On to this week’s Dirty South Soccer Staff Player Ratings:
First, Man of the Match honors. I’m beginning to feel that Miggy is being really greedy with these. Doesn’t he own enough guitars by now, or does he maybe think he’s Steve Howe? Anyway, on the grounds of that golazo alone, it’s tough not to hand him the award, and so I will. Special Mentions this game (I’m probably going to have this a recurring thing) go to Yamil Asad, whose work rate through the game was excellent, and to Alec Kann for keeping the team in the game early.
GK: Alec Kann – 8. If it wasn’t for Kann’s early heroics, this game would have been completely different. He made two stupendous stops in the first few minutes, and was left hanging by pretty much his entire back line on the one Columbus goal.
RB: Tyrone Mears - 6. Maybe Ty figured that if he does his hair like Josef Martinez, Tata will get confused and not bench (trade?) him. Anyway, he had a much better game this week for the most part, although he still has a tendency to slow down the high press in the attacking third.
CB: Michael Parkhurst - 5. Passing accuracy in the first half was a problem for the entire team, and none more so than Parky. A dreadful delivery led to the first early Columbus chance, and that wasn’t the only errant pass by a long shot. He was also the last defender on the Columbus goal, and if he had been marking Ola Kamara closer, the ball likely would not have fallen to Higuain for the goal. But he wasn’t getting any help from anyone else, so he’s not entirely to blame.
CB: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez – 7. Pirez was way too high on the aforementioned goal, and continued his recent habit of whining for an offside call (it wasn’t). However, his defensive play was otherwise excellent, especially the Almiron goal sequence: he avoided a foul, followed that immediately with a tackle and recovery that would make Bobby Moore proud, and then gave wonderful service to Miggy.
LB: Greg Garza - 7. As usual, all over the left side of the field at a tear. 64 touches, 51 passes, pretty evenly distributed between the attacking and defensive halves. Clearly benefited from being rested Wednesday night.
CM: Jeff Larentowicz – 7. Second on the team with 4 tackles behind Pirez’s 5. Larry is the Designated Wily Old Vet on the squad, and he continues to perform excellently in that role, and appears to be relishing his defensive duties.
CM: Carlos Carmona – 6.5. Last weekend I noted that C-Squared was in yellow card trouble. Apparently he does not read my columns. He committed a somewhat pointless foul to go into the book again and will miss the DC game; more importantly, he gets dinged a half point in these ratings. Other than that, he had a good game.
CAM: Miguel Almiron- 9. Do I really need to explain this?
LW: Yamil Asad – 8.5. Asad is the little engine that could. He never stops moving, and his intensity is always cranked up to 11. Loses a half point for the very silly yellow card foul. However, he is now the league co-leader with Victor Vazquez in assists with 8, although he has played 2 fewer games than Vazquez.
RW: Julian Gressel - 7. Created some very good chances in the first half, although his final service was a bit lacking. Subbed out for Josef Martinez in the 63rd minute, which may be an indication of how Tata plans to start rotating the squad.
FWD: Tito Villalba - 7. Did the Atlanta thing by scoring early, and continued with a strong work rate until he was subbed out for Kevin Kratz after 72 minutes. He did not look as tired when he came off as he has done the last few games.
SUB: Josef Martinez - 8. J-Mart as supersub? No, somehow I don’t think that’s the plan. 27 official minutes were enough to get him on the score sheet again. A wonderful close range blast that would have seen Zack Steffen’s head in the back of the net along with the ball if it had been any lower.
SUB: Kevin Kratz – 7. Replaced Villalba and continued to demonstrate why he’s on the roster, providing the assist on Martinez’ goal.
SUB: Chris McCann – 6. Came on for Miggy after 78 minutes and served well in a clean-up role.
COACH: Tata Martino - 8. Kept the team in the locker room a long time at the half. Whatever he did, the team came out for the second half and played vastly better than they in the first.
COMMENTARY - 7. This is usually where I get a bit flippant (you hearing me, Nico Cantor?). However, I felt that the new Fox play-by-play announcer Alan Green needs some explaining. First, during the game I mentioned to the other members of the Dirty South Soccer team that I thought he was calling the game like a radio guy. Green will need to morph into a more TV-friendly mode, but his current style is hardly surprising, since for the vast majority of his 36-year career that is exactly what he has been. That’s not a bad thing.
In my opinion, radio announcers are the superstars of sports commentary. Since they are working for listeners, not viewers, they have to do much more in order to create a word picture. And they have to do it in the same amount of time that TV announcers have just to call the play. The BBC has a long history of excellent radio sports announcing. This is partly because even today relatively few soccer games are broadcast live on TV in the UK, but they are on radio. The same is not true of most other sports, but the radio crews are universally better than the TV crews (indeed, TV sports announcers have long been the butt of jokes in England, at least as far back as Monty Python). As a youngster in England, I would often watch cricket with the TV sound down and the radio on. In my current home state of Alabama, I far prefer listening to Eli Gold on the radio than Verne Lundquist (now retired) on the TV for the very same reasons (I suspect I will get some cracks for those last two sentences!).
On the other hand, BBC sports announcers have long had one strange deficiency. On the whole, the BBC is very careful with pronunciation of foreign names. This for some reason has never seemed to apply to sports announcers, and Green was a case in point, with some odd variations on the names for both teams. As he gets more acquainted with the job, I hope that will improve. His interaction with Dan Gargan was also pretty good, and I expect that to improve over time as well.