Welcome to the Morning After the Morning After. Rather than hastily writing about the events of this week’s Atlanta United match and other events around the league, we want to bring you the kind of well-reasoned, thoughtful analysis of both Atlanta United and the rest of the league that comes from sitting things out for a day or two. Now that we’re two days removed from escaping New York with a point despite being completely outplayed DOESN’T EVERYONE FEEL BETTER?
Atlanta United Thought of the Week
“Take what you can. Give nothing back.”
Ok, ignore the fact (please) that google tells me this thought is actually a line from Disney’s “The Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and that I was too lazy to find out a different way to phrase it even after finding out I’m plagiarizing from a Johnny Depp vehicle and pay attention to the fact that we came away with a point on Saturday.
The bottom line is: We didn’t deserve it. We were outplayed, outshot 25-to-6 and needed nine saves from Brad Guzan plus plenty of luck to hold on to a 1-1 draw on the road.
NYCFC frustrated the Five Stripes in every aspect of the game and battered them around a futsal court for 90 minutes. But here we are with a point and a perch on top of the table. Everyone — including Tata and the players — wanted and expected more out of this game. There are valid reasons for concern with playing style/injuries/etc. For a brief moment though, enjoy the fact that this team caught a break. The last few games have been far from pretty and frustrations with refereeing and missed opportunities have compounded annoyance over a rough stretch. To go on the road and take an entirely underserved point against the team that’s currently your top challenger in the conference is a win just as much as it’s a tremendous stroke of luck. It’s a bright spot in a bad stretch. Cherish it.
**NOW IS THE PART OF THE SHOW WHERE THINGS GET PESSIMISTIC AND GRIM**
Because it may be the last one we have for a while.
While a road trip to the Bronx is likely our toughest trip of the year considering the quality of competition and having to play in a stadium that forces our metaphorical team of lifetime golfers has to go play putt-putt for 90 minutes against experienced putt-putters, it’s not going to get much easier. Atlanta follows potentially its toughest trip of the year with, potentially, it’s toughest trip of the year with a midweek visit to Columbus to face the Crew. A small crowd on short rest against a team sitting third in the Eastern Conference standings who outplayed a phenomenal New York Red Bulls team despite coming away with just a draw on Saturday is a recipe for disaster. Tata repeatedly points to Columbus along with Kansas City as the teams with the systems he most admires in the league. We obviously remember what happened last time we saw the Crew. Miggy might be hurt. Steffen will likely be back from shutting down freaking France over the weekend. Yikes.
Next, you have a visit from a surging Portland side. Atlanta gets the bonus of heading back home but the Benz hasn’t been a fortress this season (5 wins, 2 losses and a draw). The Timbers are currently snagging the same points per game as Columbus at 1.69 per contest.
Then you get your only league visit from Orlando which, sweet, free space.
The hellacious five-game stretch ends on Independence Day with potentially the toughest trip of the year to face...**checking**...HOLY CRAP, FIRST PLACE DALLAS????? The Fightin’ Tex Hoopers have stealthily accrued five wins and two draws since April ended. They’re currently one point behind Atlanta in the Supporters’ Shield race and lead MLS with 2.07 points per game.
You wade through those five games and take seven or eight points and those are results any team in the league would take.
**NOW IS THE PART OF THE SHOW WHERE WE SANDWICH THE GRIM WITH THE OPTIMISTIC TO EVOKE PATHOS AND HOPE THAT WE KNOW WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY MAKE THE IMMINENT PAIN HURT MORE BECAUSE WE’RE SADISTS**
A draw in New York is at the very least a step in the right direction. The five-game stretch comes against teams averaging 1.74 points per game. Exclude a trash Orlando team from that number jumps to 1.83, a pace that would put a team third in both conferences. It’s a frightening task, but not one that’s unassailable. Atlanta is struggling but the Five Stripes are in first place for a reason. And once you crawl through the 500 yards of sh*t-smelling foulness there’s freedom and a boat in Zihuatanejo on the other side. After this five-game stretch, the next five-game stretch comes against teams averaging .96 points per game. That would place a team 10th in both conferences.
The 10-game stretch after Dallas? .99 points per game. Now is the time we remind you that Minnesota is on a 1.14 points per game stretch. The 15-game stretch after Dallas that takes us to the end of the season? Still not enough to take down the Loons at 1.13 points per game.
These next few games could easily suck. It could get bad. But it’s hard to not feel good about the back end of the schedule. So — for the next few games at least — enjoy the luck. A point in an on-paper loss during this stretch is beautiful. Hold it. Cherish it. Don’t let it go. As a pirate I know once said, “Take what you can. Give nothing back.”
Atlanta United Tweet of the Week
Atlanta United Quote of the Week
“We have to get pressure on the ball. We have to make sure that we close guys down. We need to have a stronger mentality when we’re not in possession of the ball how we’re going to deal with it.” - Brad Guzan DEMANDING WE RETURN TO A 4-3-3*
*not really. but it’s what I’m imagining. I just want to press people again.
MLS Tweet of the Week
At some point in the next three years Atlanta United will *easily* supplant the Sounders as the most hated MLS team across all markets. I have doubted nothing less in my life.— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) June 8, 2018
Best XI: 11 Non-Atlanta United Things That Happened In the League Called MLS or Major League Soccer during this Week in MLS*
*All quotes are totally made up unless otherwise noted but it’s more fun to imagine them being real so do that
1. TORONTO BACK!
I get that we say this every week, but this time we might mean it. Lookit!
Jonathan Osorio brace! Clean sheet! Win!
“Just try and tell me Toronto isn’t back,” Osorio said postgame. “Just try and remind me that Philadelphia was missing both holding midfielders tonight. Just try and remind me that Philly had practically the same expected goals number tonight and the 2-0 scoreline is misleading. Just try and remind me that we’re ninth in the conference and still have a negative goal differential nearly halfway into the season.” he said as two men wearing masks began to drag him out of the press conference.
“Please!” he yelled, getting further and further away. “They erase our memories! Every game we find out but then they take us away! We wake up with everything unfamiliar to us” he screamed as the press furiously scribbled notes. “REMIND ME! REEEMMIIINNN—-” he shouted as the door slammed shut and Greg Vanney looked on.
“Jonathan always was a talker,” he chuckled as the press laughed and scribbled notes and wrote headlines about how back Toronto is.
2. All hail our new 17-year-old Canadian overlord.
Alphonso Davies is as good as Orlando City is a flaming pile of leftover Kid Rock vinyls.
The kid had three assists and a goal yesterday and continues to be flat out faster than anyone else in the entire league. Fortunately, Orlando is so terrible they really let him put his speed on display as the Lions earned their fifth straight loss because they’re awful at soccer and Alphonso Davies is good.
“I asked Alphonso if he wanted to join my team in exchange for my Lego X-Wing that I built,” an excited Jason Kreis said after his team’s 5-2 loss. “And I know that’s not how it works I just really wanted to show him my Legos and he said he couldn’t join but that he liked my Legos and now I think he’s my best friend because he likes Legos and I like Legos and I’m just really happy he liked my Legos.”
3. Midwestern Hospitality
Chicago looked destined for a 1-0 road win at New England but...well...
“It just seemed unfair to keep them from scoring the whole time,” Chicago goalkeeper Richard Sanchez said.
“Like 90 minutes? With no scoring? That’s no fun. That’s what soccer about is having fun with your friends. I’m really trying to change the perception of keepers around the league as “stuffy.” I keep telling all my students in my goalkeeping class that being withholding never got anyone anywhere. Here take my pamphlet,” he said handing the pamphlet to the Chicago beat writer who stuffed it in his bag next to 20 other pamphlets entitled Clean Sheet of the Conscience.
4. The Lion Will Always Slaughter the Sheep. Especially if, you know, the Sheep just kinda let him.
“Here, take this pamphlet,” Nick Rimando said postgame.
5. Columbus and NYRB Drew 1-1
The game was decent between two of the league’s best teams. All we really learned though is that things are getting out of hand at MLS digital and/or they’ve hired one too many interns.
We are officially overdoing the content y’all https://t.co/vCceVmLq0z— J. Sam Jones (@J_SamJones) June 9, 2018
“Like I get that it’s important to get content out, but a water break? Really?” Gyasi Zardes said postgame. “Seems a little much in my opin—”
“You shouldn’t question MLS.” Jonathan Osorio said flatly, appearing out of nowhere. “MLS should not be questioned, Gyasi.”
“Where...where did you come from, Jonathan?” Zardes asked.
He reached out and shook and Osorio. Osorio’s eyes suddenly came to life. He took stock of his situation.
“Help me. Help me, Gyasi. Help m—”
Two men in masks appeared and dragged Osorio away.
“Wow,” Zardes thought. Toronto really is back.”
6. SKC and Portland drew 0-0
This game did in fact happen.
“A tough, well fought game,” Peter Vermes said postgame. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I promised someone we’d go have a catch.”
Vermes walked out, but before the door closed entirely, the press caught a glimpse of Jason Kreis eagerly showing Vermes some Legos.
7. Not to start anything but we should probably relegate Colorado
It just kind of feels like the ethical thing to do at this point.
Colorado’s last win came hilariously against Toronto back in April. They lost three times this week, including to a USL side in the Open Cup where they didn’t have a shot on target. At least spot them a goal or two each game.
“We’ve got a lot to correct and we know we’re letting our fans down. We will redouble our efforts and continue to build toward the future. No one is more disappointed in this year than us,” Absolutely no one said postgame because the team had already gone to TGI Fridays to celebrate only losing by two, or as they call it, “A Colorado Draw”.
8. SEATTLE BACK!
I get that we say this every week, but this time we might mean it. Lookit!
Tonight's game-winning goal courtesy of Eikrem! pic.twitter.com/Rtn3Y8rXDI— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) June 10, 2018
Lodeiro banger! A goal by a human who’s actual name is Magnus Wolff! Win!
“Just try and remind me that D.C. United is last in the Eastern Conference. Just try and remind m—” Lodeiro said before being dragged away by Jonathan Osorio.
9. Dallas is leading the league in points per game now.
We don’t know how this happened either. They’ve gotten results in seven straight games though. No joke or anything. Just kinda stunned here.
10. More like San Lose.
The game of the week came from Southern California. It included a stunning comeback, some of the worst goals you’ve ever seen and a brace from Wondo, who is still alive apparently.
If you think he couldn’t top this banger, well.....
You were absolutely right. Tyler Miller made that one as easy as possible. So hype rn either way though.
Unfortunately, Wondo’s brace was all for nought because Kevin Partida forgot how to defend the soccer ball so good and stuff.
“I’m just glad to get a win tonight and no, no stop, god dammit I don’t want any of your f******* pamphlets,” Joao Moutinho said as Kevin Partida and Tyler Miller surrounded him.
Alpharetta Dad Thought of the Week - Sponsored by Bruce Springsteen at the Tony Awards
“Football? More like ‘Inchball’ amiright? Mere inches can change the game, kid. Never forget that. Just ask New York City Inchball Club.” - Alpharetta Dad to a kid that is definitely not his but happened to be wearing a soccer jersey at Kroger.
For the 2018 Montreal Impact wikipedia page, just show this video: pic.twitter.com/fRx9DkkXhc— Bobby Warshaw (@bwarshaw14) June 10, 2018