In Atlanta United’s first CONCACAF Champions League game in club history and the first game of Frank de Boer’s tenure, things went very, very poorly.
The Five Stripes were overrun by C.S. Herediano in a 3-1, first-leg loss.
The things that happened in the game that was played
It did not start well.
#Herediano take the early 1-0 lead against #ATLUTD. Horrific mistake on the back header by González Pirez, and Guillermo Ortíz did well to lift his finish over Guzan. #CSHvATL #CCL #SCCL2019 pic.twitter.com/iSlhiV4opv— Joga Bonito USA (@Jasoninho10) February 22, 2019
It did not immediately get better.
Where was the #ATLUTD defense?!?!— Joga Bonito USA (@Jasoninho10) February 22, 2019
Gaping hole big enough for a train, and #Herediano went straight down the middle for an easy second goal.#CSHvATL #CCL #SCCL2019 pic.twitter.com/NnFPx6gmWH
Atlanta United spent the entirety of the first half looking, quite frankly, discombobulated AF. The Five/Nine Stripes gifted Herediano the opening two goals of the tie and then literally couldn’t get out of their own damn way.
And now #ATLUTD have a goal disallowed for offside. Bizarre situation with Larentowicz and LGP getting in each other's way. Comedy of errors by ATL at both ends of the pitch.#CSHvATL #CCL #SCCL2019 pic.twitter.com/tZGUpKxZzu— Joga Bonito USA (@Jasoninho10) February 22, 2019
Fortunately, a little luck by way of a deflected Julian Gressel shot kept things close heading into the break.
#ATLUTD pull one back! Good buildup through Barco and Pity, and Gressel's shot takes a huge deflection for a valuable away goal.#CSHvATL #CCL #SCCL2019 pic.twitter.com/zrzCgXiP9C— Joga Bonito USA (@Jasoninho10) February 22, 2019
To keep more in theme with the night, Gressel would make up for that accidental lapse of success in the 50th minute.
It was Gressel who lost his man at the back post, allowing Granados to finish Azofeifa's quality service off the free kick.#CSHvATL #Herediano #ATLUTD #SCCL2019 pic.twitter.com/sRyDOisWEI— Joga Bonito USA (@Jasoninho10) February 22, 2019
Both teams scraped together a few chances the rest of the way, but neither could find the back of the net.
A Recap Thought: “Growing Pains” but in Dutch
There are better tacticians at DSS who will absolutely put out more insightful content on this later in the week (I see you Josh Bagriansky) but you don’t have to have written a dissertation on “Inverting the Pyramid” to recognize that everything was ugly. The back line looked out of sorts, the front three kept ramming head first into the teeth of the Herediano defense, and I am genuinely unsure anyone not named Julian Gressel played 4 part of the 3-4-3.
Tiotal Football summed it up well.
the bad games are the ones where you feel like it's 2v4 in attack and 3v3 in defense but you also cant keep the ball.— TiotaalVoetbal (@TiotalFootball) February 22, 2019
We have a saying at DSS: “Soccer is hard.” The hardness is compounded when you’re trying to implement new ideas in a new system while plugging in new players. It’s going to be a while before everyone looks comfortable (except for Frank de Boer, who constantly looks like he’s seeing the physical representation of imminent death in front of him, and who, consequently, will never look comfortable) under FdB. It’s obviously early. It’s obviously a major challenge to go to Costa Rica and get CONCACAF’d. Things obviously didn’t start well last year and we saw how that ended up. All these things are obvious, but they’re still good to hear. Don’t panic. But do keep an eye on a few of the uglier trends we saw tonight and pray they get better.
Soccer is hard. The growing pains will be real.
DSS Man of the Match
Idk. Gressel scored. I guess him.
Larentowicz Man of the Match - (Your unsung hero(es))
These dudes dutifully carrying off Herediano player after Herediano player on stretchers and miraculously bringing them back to life on the sideline.
February 22, 2019
Tweet of the Night
#ATLUTD gets the ball and everyone just stands around.— Doug Roberson (@DougRobersonAJC) February 22, 2019
Atlanta United at least takes an away goal to Fifth/Third Bank Stadium next Thursday. A 2-0 win gets the job done. There are also a whole bunch of negative outcomes that are easier to explain in chart form. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. in Kennesaw.