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5 thoughts on a frustrating night for Atlanta United vs. Sporting KC

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The unbeaten run ends for the Five Stripes

MLS: Sporting KC at Atlanta United FC Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The 4-2-3-1 looked good… while it lasted

Tata Martino finally broke the streak of matches deploying the 3-5-2 by reverting back to the 4-2-3-1 that the team played almost all of last season. There was good and bad here. THe good was that the team was able to win the ball high up the field and create opportunities through those turnovers. Tito Villalba seemed to be the biggest threat, getting behind the SKC defense several times for shooting and crossing opportunities that nearly hit the mark. The bad of the formation was in the buildup, where Atlanta struggled to progress the ball at times. Overall, the early signs were promising. Most importantly, Atlanta’s back line did not look overly exposed, sans one cutting through ball that was misjudged badly by Brad Guzan.

Atlanta needs to sort out it’s goalkeepers quickly

Brad Guzan’s well-deserved red card Wednesday night means he will miss the team’s next match, and unfortunately it’s a big one against Orlando City. To make matters worse for Tata Martino, he’s currently without both of his backups in Alec Kann and Mitch Hildebrant. Kann’s injury is supposedly a minor one and he will not doubt be putting in as much time in the physio room as he can to get healthy (Tata Martino has said the injury is a minor knee issue). Otherwise, the team will likely lean on the man who replaced Guzan Wednesday night, Paul Christensen. Atlanta United selected Paul Christensen with the No. 70 pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. Christensen started all 72 games of his four-year college career at Portland and recorded 20 clean sheets after coming up through the Seattle Sounders Academy. He was solid in his performance and the coaching staff will surely have gained some confidence in him if he’s relied upon this weekend.

Atlanta’s energy expenditure Wednesday could haunt them

Talking to players and the manager after the match, fitness seemed to be the top priority when it comes to preparing for Orlando CIty Sunday evening. The compressed schedule of three games in eight days doesn’t help matters, but to throw in 55+ minutes of playing with 10-men, and there are surely going to be some heavy legs this morning and in the coming days leading up to the rivalry match. Michael Parkhurst sounded physically exhausted talking to media after the match, and Martino said the team may have to adjust it’s training and rehabilitation plan in order to allow for some more rest and recovery. As bad as the goalkeeping situation is looking for Sunday, this may be even more damaging considering everyone on the team is affected by the extra hard running.

It was a rough night for Mark Geiger and VAR Edvin Jurisevic

While the red card given to Brad Guzan was spot on (and a relatively easy call to make as far as reds go), many of the other big decsions on the night were… questionable. It started in the 6th minute when VAR Jurisevic decided to review and overturn Josef Martinez’s goal for having gained an advantage by standing in an offside position. The written response to the pool reporter who asked why the call was overturned was given this response, in writing:

“The Sporting KC defender reacted by planting his foot in the ground in an attempt to block the ball. The ball hit him, deflecting to the Atlanta United player in an offside position.”

This, apparently, is not a deliberate (aka intentional) act to play the ball. Uhhhhh, right. There was a Tottenham-Liverpool game earlier this season in which a very similar action happened, and in that one, the attacking team (Spurs) were the beneficiaries of the poorly played ball by the defender.

Okay, but even if you want to make this argument, is this really a clear and obvious error that needed to be fixed? Surely Geiger knew that Martinez was in an offisde position, and originally adjudged Ike Opara to have made a deliberate effort to play the ball (he did). Tata Martino was not happy with the decision following the game, criticizing Geiger to Spanish-language media.

“It’s not my problem, it’s the league’s because this is the guy they’re sending to world cups.. usually they send the best one so if this is the best one...”

Ouch. We will have more on Tata’s raging to the Spanish press on Dirty South Soccer this week. There were other important missed calls though that could have swung the tide. This looks like a clear handball off the arm of Matt Besler that happened during one of the scrambles following a Kevin Kratz free kick.

Losses make the heart grow fonder

Gather round the fireplace kids, time for some kumbaya and life lessons with your pal Joe.

These kinds of games are awful. You go home disappointed, angry and upset. It makes you feel like the whole effort of getting out of work, wrangling up the kids/supplies, navigating through traffic, security etc., was all for naught. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But a dose of a game like this can be healthy for a fanbase that isn’t very accustomed to losing. Because at the end of the day, shit happens. Results are fickle and things don’t always go your way. But it’s the contrast to the lows that makes the highs of being a fan -- especially a fan of this team -- so worthwhile. There’s still a ton to play for this season, especially in a few days when the Five Stripes visit their biggest rival. On to the next one.