Atlanta United continued their preseason last night with a frustrating 3-1 loss to the same team that ended our season last year, the Columbus Crew. The Five Stripes had a difficult time breaking down Columbus' defensive unit, which I must say was solid the entire match. After a loss like this, there is always a lot to think about, but here are a few major points to take a look at.
Andrew Carleton gave the team a spark when he came on
In the first 45 minutes of the match, ATL did not have many real opportunities in front of goal. A lot of “ALMOST!” and “Why didn’t he play _______ instead??” when talking about Atlanta’s attacking play. The team's overall playing began to improve in the second half, and they were given even more of a boost when Carleton was brought into the match with around 15 minutes to go. As soon as he stepped on the pitch, one could tell he was impacting play in the attacking third. It is also important to note that Carleton was able to look dangerous with and without the ball. With the ball, he looked confident taking on defenders and slipping in through balls, and even when he did not have the ball, he stayed active by making intelligent runs across and behind the Columbus backline. One in particular ended with him being denied of a goal by (surprisingly not Zack Steffen) the post.
Carleton hits the post after .08 seconds on the pitch. Let the hype train continue.— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) February 17, 2018
If he continues to have an impact like this, we could see his role with the first team grow.
Barco needs time to gel with the team
I know what some of you are thinking: “We paid 15 million for him??”. Yes. However, even though he was such an expensive transfer, it doesn't mean he will be perfect right away. It is always difficult getting used to a new environment, new teammates, and a new system. It takes a little while for a player to get acclimated with new teammates' personalities and playing styles. Just by watching a few games he has played in, one can tell how talented he is. The struggle right now is just chemistry and timing with his teammates. A few things in particular that can set him apart from other players is his work rate and his vision with the ball at his feet. Whilst dribbling around defenders the Argentine is always looking for a penetrating pass that can take many opponents out of the play. He will get more comfortable with the team as time goes on, which is totally understandable.
Let’s all calm down
Even though this was not a classic ATL performance, there is no need to freak out. Like I said before, this was only the second game back for the team. It is normal for players to not be quite as sharp as they are during the season. This is a time to work out all the kinks and really get ready to hit the ground running when the regular season starts. There have obviously been lots of changes with player personnel this offseason, and not to mention a few small injuries during the pre season that kept four expected starters out of the lineup today. Of course fans are going to worry and speculate, but there is no need to fear this upcoming season.
Bonus Thought: The King Peach Kits are cool
I really like them, don't @ me.