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Prekrap: Atlanta United vs. Monterrey Concacaf Champions League leg 2

Home and looking for a comeback

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

Cinci-not very good from Atlanta United

Well Atlanta United became the best team to ever win MLS Cup and then draw their home opener to an expansion team with Corben Bone on the roster. The team might not have played their worst game under Frank de Boer, but it was far from what they’re capable of. Having a 1-0 lead at home just to give up a goal and dropping points on the only shot on target from the opposition is tough to take, especially against an expansion team, and especially because Atlanta should have had the game well in hand by then.

FdB’s post game comments when he said soccer was hard, evoked Toronto’s difficulties last year on the way to a 9th place finish, said something that was perhaps as blunt as it was out of context about spoiled fans, and then seemed to lack the self-awareness that while the fans were booing the team, that the blame for how the season is going mainly resides on the shoulders of the man charged with keeping the success the team has had going. Soccer is hard, but it shouldn’t quite be this hard.

Atlanta United Prekrap

All I can do at this point is shrug and say - maybe FdB will work it out between Sunday and Wednesday. That seems like a big leap of faith though. Add to it that Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, who is at his typical early season hunting for a red card stage, will be suspended due to yellow card accumulation so the defensive effort that kept Monterrey at bay for 80 minutes last week and Cincinnati scoreless for 85 on Sunday will look and most likely play a little bit different. Perhaps there will be a change at left back though. So far Brek Shea has shown that he can’t play defense with the US Men’s National Team, Orlando City, or the Vancouver Whitecaps, Atlanta United seems to be joining that list as well.

CF Monterreally good soccer team

It will be very interesting to see how Los Rayados square up against the Five Rayados. The team could elect to sit back and play defensive soccer and let Atlanta try to break them down and claw back from three goals. On the other hand, perhaps the team has learned that Atlanta really doesn’t play well when it’s pressed. The Five Stripes have struggled with the possession based approach from FdB so far this year, and facing a press will make that more difficult. Monterrey sitting back might be Atlanta’s best chance for a comeback though.

The visitors are coming off of their own emotional 1-1 draw over the weekend. The match was pretty inconclusive as far as 1-1 draws go. Monterrey looked dominant in the first half and took an early lead only to give away the points in the 81st minute. It’s at least good to know that Atlanta isn’t the only team playing Wednesday that let a win slip away in the last 10 minutes of a game this weekend.

Going Galaxy Brain

Maybe it’s time to pack it in for the CCL. Nobody wants this and Atlanta United is about to enter the international break after the weekend. Some of the star players won’t get a rest then, but it will give Frank de Boer a chance to really look at what’s working and hopefully get a grip on what isn’t. Trying to claw back in this game is going to be difficult if not impossible - especially with how the team just played against an expansion team.

Do the starters need the manager to show he trusts them to come back at home? If Atlanta wins the match with the best XI but loses the aggregate score, is it worth wearing the players out even more for a looming home game against a good but beatable Philadelphia Union team? Are tired brains and legs why there weren’t more chances against FC Cincinnati and is that why the match ended in a 1-1 score?

These are tough questions, but if FdB is as pragmatic in his decisions about which match is more likely to yield a positive result as he weighs the sacrifices that each entail, we might see the Five Stripes put out a lineup that says it’s put CCL behind them in 2019.

Is it the international break yet?

Sticking to reality

One point in two MLS games isn’t good. Losing a pair of favorable results late in the past two matches is really bad. Things seem bleak, but step back a little bit. Overall, the team isn’t in bad shape in MLS - yet - and a loss or draw on Sunday won’t really change that. Atlanta United is still the most talented team in MLS and has come back in this tournament before. With the fixture congestion and poor results that the team has had being a rude awakening, FdB needs to right the ship. Against a team that seems like it’s going to sit back and play defensive soccer, the new manager knows what he can expect and has a chance, albeit a slim one, to get Atlanta back on track to advance in the tournament. That said, Atlanta United will need to be not merely better against Monterrey, the team will have to be nearly perfect.