Rekrap: Death be not rowdy and proud
Ball watching, terrible allowed early goal
Signs. Good signs. Promising attacking sequences. Interplay
Barco running the attack. Not awful. Steffen saving, Tito slipping
Rain, cold and unrelenting. A ball floating in puddles, not gliding on grass. Comeback chances sunk on a soggy field. Rain that stops play, but won’t go away
Parkhurst, benched. Robinson, unsure. Escobar, injured
Gyasi Zardes is good actually. The referee is a lifeguard, Atlanta’s season needs CPR
Another loss. Four games. Two goals, six allowed. Two points
Last place... a loss for words
New England Revo-no, they’re the same, but more reliant on one player
Brad Friedel is in his second year and New England has tried the drastic new approach of signing a creative midfielder and paying him what he’s worth so that he doesn’t demand a trade and ruin the first half of their season. Carles Gil has brought an attacking spark to the team that it was badly lacking last year, but otherwise it doesn’t seem like much has changed. The Revs are leaky in defense, have a defensive midfield that can’t stop anyone from just running past them, and Gil has scored three of their five goals on the year. The team is in 10th place in the division and a loss against Atlanta could see them alone in last place by the end of the weekend.
They are coming off of a typical ‘hard to watch’ 1-0 MLS game in which things did not go well - just look:
Teal Bunbury with one of the most AWFUL shots EVER! #NERevs— The MLS Hub (@TheMLSHub) April 8, 2019
Not only did they lose to Columbus, a team people are somehow giving a lot of credit to despite relying on their defenders to score all their goals and seem to be luckier than anything else this year - but OK, but a red card to center back Michael Mancienne means their defense might be somehow worse this week than usual.
Still, they have players that have scored goals in the past like Juan Agudelo, the aforementioned Bunbury, Diego Fagundez, and Cristian Penilla. None of those players are lethal or consistent or a center back or a defensive midfielder, but if Atlanta is ball watching or otherwise as disorganized in the back as it has been all year they will only need to let the defense beat itself once again to avoid a loss this weekend.
Prekrap: Yet again, it will work after a bye week or it won’t
In order to get its first MLS win in 2019 Atlanta United will have to do something it’s never done before: beat the Revolution in New England. Whether it’s because of the team’s ability to make opponents play on a terrible surface, guys named Sully yelling incomprehensible things at them, the knowledge that at some point yellow field lines will be painted over a visible gridiron during the NFL season, or the deafening, ever-present blaring of “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” playing unironically by ever single person in the city at all times, Foxboroooouuuugggghhhh is a hard place to play for visiting MLS teams.
Atlanta played a turgid draw there in 2017 and then in 2018 gave up a late lead, dropping points that would have perhaps secured the Supporters Shield. For things to turn around this week - well, the team just needs to play better. There were glimpses of danger in the attack against Columbus and Zack Steffen made some impressive saves to keep Atlanta out of the net. New England has a terrible defense still and is weak in central midfield. That SHOULD mean good things for Atlanta United.
Still, the team is going to be faced with problems in the game. In the past few seasons, Atlanta has shown that third string goalkeeper is the most important position on the roster. This year it’s back up right back followed very closely by back up left back. Franco Escobar is available for selection, that doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to start, but Mikey Ambrose and George Bello are injured this week so the defense will again be a complete mystery and who knows how FdB will solve it. Pity Martinez is also available, but he hasn’t been very good in a black and red or King Peach kit this year, presumably if he turns it on though the team could get an attacking boost.
It seems like if the team is going to win it’s going to be with Julian Gressel gathering the ball on the right side of the field and slicing cutbacks towards Josef Martinez. Frankly, if they can generate the kinds of chances they did against the best keeper in MLS against whoever plays in goal for New England and contain Gil, that might be enough on Saturday.
An important motivational message
Maybe the problem isn’t poor tactics or lacking individual performances - maybe the team just needs to re-fill its passion bucket. Luckily, I’ve got just the thing:
Enough recycled Departed jokes
Atlanta United is at the stage where it needs points. However they come they need to get here now. A win would be ideal, but at least salvaging a point would build something good heading into a home game against a good but not unbeatable FC Dallas team.