Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good, I guess. Or is it better to be lucky than atrocious? Given last Wednesday’s outing, I’m not sure which is right. Anyway, Atlanta United put up another lackluster performance on Saturday evening, but came away with a share of the spoils, salvaging 1 point out a potential 6 on this abbreviated northern road trip heading into yet another break (there’s only one more to go in the season, and we play through that anyway). The bright spot? We managed to slip above the dreaded red line courtesy of Toronto FC defeating the Montreal Impact with typical ruthless efficiency and our healthy goal difference.
Overall, this was a rather unattractive game to watch. There were a total of 31 fouls called (and a good few that weren’t). This was highlighted of course by the red card foul by Josh Yaro on Josef Martinez. Atlanta played with a man advantage for 38 official minutes, predictably dominating the stats sheet, but only finally managing to capitalize a minute into stoppage time. Yaro, by the way, is a red card waiting to happen, and that rather impatiently. He is tied for the Union’s career record in ejections, having accumulated three over the course of only 1,696 minutes. That’s a red card every 6.28 games.
On to this week’s Dirty South Soccer Staff Player Ratings:
Yanil Asad gets the nod for Man of the Match honors. He was his usual hard-working self, and kept the team in the game with a well-placed score only 3 minutes after going down 2-0. Special Mention goes to Tyrone Mears for his, shall we say, unorthodox late equalizer.
GK: Brad Guzan – 6. Guzan is proving the value of his signing week after week. As usual, it is hard to charge him with any blame for the two goals, which were both the end result of poor defending. He did make 4 saves for the game. He’s now with the US national team ahead of their games in New York and Honduras, which means a not too strenuous travel schedule and likely limited playing time behind Tim Howard.
RB: Anton Walkes –5. Walkes continues to struggle going forward, which is definitely a negative in Tata Martino’s scheme. Defensively, he is largely fine. To get an idea of those struggles, take a look at his heatmap (from whoscored.com):
Now compare it to Greg Garza’s on the opposite flank:
Last, here’s Mears’ heatmap, who replaced him in the 75th minute:
The Mears comparison must be considered in light of the fact that Atlanta were pressing hard at the end of the game and had little defending to do. However, Walkes also had a fair amount of time playing with the man advantage. Mears was only moderately more advanced than Walkes, but obviously made much more of it.
CB: Michael Parkhurst – 4. Another roughish game from Parky, who ended up leaving the game early in the 59th minute in an attacking shift by Tata. One statistic that stands out: he had 13 unsuccessful long passes. Successful passes in the attacking half? Also 13. Successful long passes? Just 7.
CB: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez – 5. LGP had a fairly difficult game too. If we look at the same stats as for Parkhurst, he chalked up 24, 45 and 16 in a full 90 stint. Not much better, if at all. However, he led the team in touches (100) and passes (88), and even had 3 shots on goal, 2 of which were inside the box, and 1 on target.
LB: Greg Garza – 5. As shown above, Garza gets all over the left side of the field, and this is consistent from game to game. He does need to improve on his crossing, which has been a bugbear for Atlanta all season. He was 4 of 8 connecting on crosses in this game.
CM: Jeff Larentowicz – 5. Larry had to play without his usual midfield partner Carlos Carmona, who was out with yellow card accumulation. This created something of a disconnect. However, he played in much more of a foraward role on Saturday, as was the case with the entire team, who had 10 men in the attacking half for much of the second half.
CM: Chris McCann – 5. McCann was probably a surprise starter for most fans, and was probably just as much a surprise to go the full 90. His outing was rather Carmona-like, and he was second on the team in touches (88) and passes (63), and had 3 shots, none on target, and one of which was a pointless hopeful blast from over 30 years out.
CAM: Yamil Asad – 6. Asad swapped places with Miguel Almiron in an intriguing tactical adjustment by Martino. It’s not entirely clear whether this worked or how much they have practiced in this lineup. Asad’s goal came from his normal outside position, in fact. He was also the target of some fairly rough play (as has become all too common for him), including a very suspicious off-the-ball incident with Ilsinho, which left him holding his face and looking none too happy.
LW: Miguel Almiron – 5. Playing out wide on the left, which he has a tendency to drift towards anyway, did not really produce the results Tata was looking for. For some reason Miggy has not been taking advantage of his speed the last two games and is not finding the space he needs to operate effectively. Also he was not great on crosses, finishing only 2 of his 4 attempts.
RW: Tito Villalba – 4. Another weak display from Tito, whose overall quality appears to be diminishing. He never really created anything dangerous. Came out early yet again in the 75th minute.
FWD: Josef Martinez – 5. An odd game for Josef. He got the assist on Asad’s goal, although it was likely his header was meant as an attempt on goal, making it the precise opposite of Mears’ score. He did get one chance to show his typical up the middle lethality. If not for the yank from behind by Yaro, there is a good chance he would have scored; at the very least he would have put Andre Blake under serious pressure.
SUB: Julian Gressel – 5. Came on for Parkhurst after 59 minutes in an obviously attacking shift. He was more active this time than in DC, but oddly did not get forward as much as would be expected given the situation in which he came on.
SUB: Jacob Peterson – 4. Replaced Villalba in the 75th minute. He really did not produce anything, much less his late game heroics in Kansas City.
SUB: Tyrone Mears – 6. Came on for Walkes in the 75th minute, and completely flipped the way that position was being played. As I noted before, and Mears has more or less admitted, his looping header off the Blake punch was not really intended on goal but just to get it back into the box. But hey, it worked.
COACH: Tata Martino – 5. Tata’s game plan was much more flexible than we have become used to, and although it was not altogether effective, I think this is a good sign. I suspect that we will see more of the kinds of adjustments he made on Saturday when we are back from the international break and launch into a crazy September.
Regular readers will note that this post was rather less light-hearted than usual. Given what is going on in Texas and Louisiana, I am not really inclined to humor right now. It’s having an impact on what I do for a day job, but that is nothing compared to what the locals are facing at the moment and for the foreseeable future. Please support the relief efforts in whatever way you can, whether it be through action, financial support or spiritual. It’s all going to be needed.