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5 interesting chalkboards from Atlanta United vs. LAFC

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Insights from the Opta stats

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Atlanta United FC Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know if anyone yet understand how Atlanta’s match against LAFC last Saturday ended up with a lopsided 5-0 scoreline, But thanks to Opta’s handy dandy geo-stats, we can at least see some patterns that happened in the game that led to the three points for the Five Stripes.

Playing Deep

First, we look at just how deep of a defensive block Atlanta set in it’s own half against an LAFC team that dominated possession. Only eight of Atlanta’s 54 ball recoveries happened in LAFC’s half of the field. This is accentuated by Miguel Almiron’s recoveries specifically. As Atlanta’s primary option in moving the team into the attack, it’s quite telling just how deep his recoveries were happening. But credit the Paraguayan for making himself so useful in this role. Eight ball recoveries is impressive.

Difference in the attacking third

Startling stuff here and something Atlanta fans (and Tata Martino) are not used to seeing. Atlanta’s patchwork defense with less experienced players will tend to retreat toward their own goal as a safety measure, and here we see the effects of that. While a plyer like Miles Robinson did extremely well to throw his body around, block shots, and simply defend, Martino will want to see him develop into a player that isn’t afraid to push the line up and allow the team to compete in midfield. But despite all the possession Atlanta conceded, they notably didn’t allow many successful passes into the box.

Atlanta’s chart is unusual as well — and it’s less about the quantity of final third passes and more about the style and function of them. Longer, more incisive, and more direct passing. While LAFC’s passing is very much side-to-side, Atlanta was much more vertical due to the fact that the Five Stripes were playing on the counter and had space to run into.