What happened? I leave for a few weeks to welcome the newest Atlanta United fan into the world and the team loses 3-0 to DC United and then loses 2-0 to the New York Red Bulls? Glad nothing changed while I was away. Luckily, the New England Revolution are next on the schedule so Atlanta can still maybe win the Supporters’ Shield.
New England Recession
What do we know about the New England Revolution? Aside from the fact that they play on a vintage 1996 MLS pitch and are managed by a vintage 1996 goalkeeper, we know that they are a pretty uneven team with a slight hope at making the playoffs. New England is in eighth place with four games to play and, as things stand, are five points and probably some tiebreakers away from making the playoffs and being eliminated in the first round of the postseason.
Aside from that, things are looking bad for them. After seeming like they might be a sure playoff team the Revs have one win in their last 13 games - that’s one win since the beginning of August. It is a really bad record. The one thing they have going for them is the knowledge that the team ripped Atlanta’s heart out in the last minute when they played earlier this year in the stadium soccer forgot about. Sometimes being lucky is better than being good.
The 3-5-2 might actually work this week
In the 13 games where New England has just one win, they also have just 14 goals. The Revs can score, they just aren’t. Their defense has been OK — leaky, but OK — and Atlanta should find space with the Revs in equal need of a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Knowing that their opponent needs to come at his team, it will be interesting to see if Tata Martino sticks with the 3-5-2 as he did to great effect against Real Salt Lake or opts for something a little different. In some ways RSL and New England are very similar teams. Each are capable of scoring goals but they have very shaky defensive midfields and their backlines are a complete mess.
Atlanta is playing some garbage teams to end the year. New England is terrible. The Chicago Fire went from hopeful rebuilders to being thankful that Orlando City exists, and Toronto is the best MLS team in history to have the best record in MLS history to never turn it around like all the soccering experts said they would.
Atlanta United lost to a team with something called Brian White on the roster, the manager is involved in a handshake controversy, Atlanta has only beaten one of the other top three teams in either conference all year, New York has a confidence boost, and Toronto FC can play spoiler to Atlanta breaking some of their records maybe. This will be a lot harder than it should be and it will be because of self-inflicted injuries for the most part.
That said, Atlanta United is in a good position. They have three weak opponents who can’t beat anybody to end the season. The team sits atop the lead for the Supporters’ Shield. Orlando City is like bad performance art that misses the mark and just turns into a circus where you can’t tell if the spectators are watching the act or are the ones doing the side show regurgitation act themselves. Things are going exceedingly well; naturally Atlanta is doomed.