Josef Martinez scored again and the Seattle Sounders went down to 10 men in the second half, but the game ended in a 1-1 draw and two dropped points at home on Sunday afternoon in Atlanta.
A stupefyingly boring contest out of the gate, the match sprung to life after a couple of rough fouls and even a bit of shoving between Josef and Chad Marshall. Out of the wreckage, Seattle began to possess the ball and create chances. The Sounders’ resurgence culminated in a VAR-awarded penalty via a Franco Escobar handball in the box.
In the 45th minute, Lodeiro stepped up to the spot for Seattle and pushed it past Brad Guzan. Guzan guessed correctly, and even put a hand on the ball, but couldn’t keep it from finding the back of the net.
Despite past issues with VAR, Tata did agree postgame that the penalty was the correct call. However, he did take the time to note a missed review opportunity earlier in the half.
“I think that after they went to VAR they got the call correct,” Martino said through a translator. “But I also think there was a clear penalty on Chris McCann for a foul inside the box off a corner kick in the first half. It’s pretty visible. Maybe not by the referee but I think if they would have checked it they would have seen the foul.”
Yeah. They might have.
As much as Tata disliked the outcome of the reviews (or lack thereof) he mentioned that, for personal reasons, he might be more concerned with how long it’s taking the reviews to be completed.
“I just think they could be a little faster with his decision making. Today I got a message that my dinner was ready at home but unfortunately they were still reviewing the play,” he said.
The Five Stripes entered the half in desperate need of a reset. Whatever button they pressed worked. Atlanta came out of the gate with a renewed sense of urgency. It quickly paid dividends.
With the goal, Josef reclaimed his three-goal advantage on the entire Seattle team. Martinez now has 19 on the year. The Sounders have 16.
Atlanta continued to apply pressure on Seattle after the Martinez goal. In large part thanks to adjustments made at halftime.
“[We started] moving the ball quicker,” Jeff Larentowicz said. “When a team sits back you’re going to end up having more time on the ball than you usually do. You want pick your head up and survey the options and play quarterback when really the thing to do is move it quickly and get it to the next guy and the gaps will open up.”
The gaps opened up enough for the Five Stripes to pile on 13 shots in the second half compared to only two shots for Seattle. The quick circulation also contributed to Jordan McCrary’s second yellow card of the game in the 63rd minute. Down to ten men, Seattle nestled deeper into their own half. Atlanta created multiple chances the rest of the way -- including several shots in the frenetic final minutes – but they couldn’t find the go-ahead goal.
With the draw, Atlanta United has now earned just eight points in their last six home matches. Despite two dropped points at home against the Western Conference’s 10th place team, Martino seemed encouraged by the chances his side created.
“I’m calm with the production of the team today. It’s difficult to play against a defense that plays so far back and plays very defensively and it’s difficult to break that defense down. I thought we did it pretty well at times, especially in the second half,” Martino said. “Orlando came in here and played the same way and we were able to get a positive result. The other team is going to do what’s best for them tactically so that they think they can get the best result they can. It’s our job to worry about us and figure out how we’re going to solve that.”
Unfortunately for both fans and team members, the frustrating tactical set ups from visiting teams aren’t going away soon. The Five Stripes welcome perennial Achilles heel D.C. United to the Benz on Saturday.
“We’ve played a good number of games like that already. We expect there to be more similar games. It’s something we know we’ll have to manage,” Martino said.