Everyone knows that teams have a disturbing tendency to play down to weaker opposition, but must Atlanta United really play beneath them? This was not a good outing, to say the least. Consider this: in 16 games, DC United has 18 points and 12 goals to its credit. Of those, 6 and 5 respectively were racked up against Atlanta. And we still have to play them one more time (on Wednesday, August 23, at RFK).
Short rest also had a clear effect last night. Martino made only one lineup change from Saturday—the forced replacement of Carlos Carmona due to suspension—and several on the squad looked tired. He is going to have to do a better job of player rotation going forward. Finishing also contributed to the negative result: of Atlanta’s 15 shots only 5 were on target and numerous other opportunities in the box were simply missed. And then there’s the defending, of which no more shall be said.
Last night was not a complete wash-out, though. Portland lost. Any day Portland loses is a good day. Especially to Minnesota.
And so, the Dirty South Soccer Staff Player Ratings:
Man of the Match honors. This can be very difficult to decide in a losing match, but on this occasion Yamil Asad deserves the recognition for his continued commitment and effort. Special Mention goes to Brandon Vazquez who reenergized the team somewhat in his relief role.
GK: Alec Kann - 5. Followed up a great game on Saturday with a groaner on Wednesday. To be fair, on the first goal he was put in a difficult position by Parkhurst, who should not have played the ball back to him with Luciano Acosta so close, but he also should not have panicked into a quick and ill-advised punt. Also looked rather shaken up after the unfortunate knock to the head.
RB: Tyrone Mears - 3. I think this is the worst rating I have given any player yet. Mears continues to prove less than optimal as a high-pressing fullback, and was completely out of position on the Patrick Nyarko goal. For a few reasons, he is a square peg in a round hole. As discussed among the Dirty South Soccer writers this morning, for several reasons. First, the high press is not his forte as a player. Second, at 34 he is the oldest player on the roster. But he is being asked to play a style that requires him to be more mobile than almost any other position. I suspect his legs just aren’t up to it. Third, he has played 15 of the 16 games to date (he missed Montreal) and looks absolutely gassed.
CB: Michael Parkhurst - 4. As mentioned above, a poor decision to pass the ball back to Kann led to the first DC goal. Parky looked off his pace much as Mears did. Although he had more touches and passes on the night than any other Atlanta player, which you would expect for a CB, he also attempted no tackles all game.
CB: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez - 5. When Pirez lays off the whining for offside calls, he is very hard to get past. He is also, as we saw Saturday, a great tackler. Last night, not so much. Only one tackle, although he did have 4 clearances and even got into the opposing box for an off-target shot.
LB: Greg Garza - 6. Garza had a fairly typical game for him, getting up and down the field as usual. Like Pirez, he did have an attempt on goal, which was on target.
CM: Jeff Larentowicz – 5.5. Possibly the most reliable defensive player on the team these days. Big Red had 5 tackles for the game. Loses a half point for the yellow card. Subbed off after 75 minutes for a well-deserved rest.
CM: Kevin Kratz - 6. For many, he was the expected replacement for Carmona, and was generally a solid performer on the night. His touch and heat maps though look more like those of a CAM (in fact, they were almost identical to Almiron’s), which may suggest he didn’t quite adjust to the change in role. He was also the team leader in tackles with 7.
CAM: Miguel Almiron - 6. Not Miggy’s best game by far, although he did chalk up the assist. He had 65 touvches and 43 passes, mostly in the attacking half. Had 2 shots, both off target, but he was placed well on a couple of other chances and should have received service to score.
LW: Yamil Asad - 7. At some point Asad’s motor is going to run dry. I just hope that’s in December. Yamil is proving his worth week after week. He got the secondary assist on the goal, and is now the sole leader in that category (he also leads in primary assists). He also took a team-high 4 shots, 2 on target. Lastly, he was ruled offside on a play that looked to be a certain penalty kick for Atlanta. Close review indicates the offside call was correct, but only because he was leaning a bit further forward than the last defender. About as tight a call as you will ever see.
RW: Julian Gressel – 5.5. Got the tap-in goal (for which he gets a half point boost), but was otherwise disappointing. His service into the box was poor all evening and the look on his face when he was subbed off after 63 minutes suggested he knew it.
FWD: Tito Villalba - 5. As a Designated Player, Tito needs to do better. His finishing is suspect and he had at least 1 golden opportunity to set Almiron up for a goal. Cam of after 75 minutes and looked like he really should have come off earlier.
SUB: Josef Martinez - 6. In 27 minutes on the pitch Martinez was unable to recreate the magic he performed on Saturday. He had 1 long range shot on goal, and if he had been a step faster on a couple of other plays could have seen the back of the net.
SUB: Chris McCann - 5. Second straight relief appearance for McCann, replacing Larentowicz. Was pretty effective on Saturday, not so much last night, but that probably had more to do with the performance of the players around him than with his own play.
SUB: Brandon Vazquez – 6.5. Replaced Villalba and for the 15 minutes he was on looked like the best man on the team. For a big guy he is very fast and energetic, and looks to have a bright future. Loses a half point for the yellow card.
COACH: Tata Martino - 5. Sticking with his preferred squad is commendable from the point of view of trust and loyalty, but not so smart when they are obviously running on fumes. Again, he needs to start subbing much earlier.
FIELD CONDITIONS - 2. We all know RFK as a stadium is a rat-hole and is going to be vacated as soon as DC can get out of there, but they need to maintain the pitch in the meantime. On TV there were three clearly visible bare patches and who knows how many others that couldn’t be seen. That’s inexcusable in a top tier league.
FAN: John Fuller - -10. As of Saturday I’m off with the family on a cross-country road trip vacation, and will miss the remaining games before the Gold Cup break. I humbly request your forgiveness for my obviously mistaken order of priorities. On the other hand, I’ll be going through about 12 states, so I’ll get to feel exactly how Atlanta United must in this crazy first half season.