Atlanta, Ga. - Despite perhaps their sharpest home performance of the year, Atlanta United is still waiting for their first home win of 2019 after FC Dallas capitalized on two massive chances and held strong against a barrage of Atlanta attempts.
The things that happened in the game that was played
It took six minutes for everything to be bad again.
Atlanta ended the half with 70% possession. So that was good.
And really the team looked better. The Five Stripes were creating chances. Not high percentage chances but still chances. At the very least the first half had energy, something that was noticeably absent in the first two home matches.
Unfortunately, the results continue to be the same.
Atlanta piled on shot after shot, but Jesse Gonzalez made save after save. Eventually, Dallas found an opportunity. They didn’t waste it.
Deep into stoppage time, Josef scored the saddest penalty in Atlanta United history to make the final score 2-1.
Atlanta United finished with 22 shots — their highest total of the season — and 72.2% possession — .8% behind their highest total of the season.
A Recap Thought: So...Frank de Boer might be cursed y’all.
That wasn’t bad.
No wait, come back, I’m being serious.
Everything looked crisp. The intensity reached the level it needed to be at. The tactics weren’t wrong. Atlanta created chances. And decent chances at that. If you were in the “give FdB time” camp, I think tonight pushed the needle slightly toward your side. If you think otherwise...well, honestly I don’t blame you, it sucks to be on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
But if you’re criticism was that the team hadn’t shown a sense of direction or identity, the last two games have been body blows to that idea. Tonight is as close to the ideal Frank de Boer game as this team has been by a substantial margin. But two mistakes killed all of it. And those aren’t excusable. But they are fixable.
“I can definitely say we were the most dangerous we’ve been all year. I can say that we played well as a team tonight too,” Jeff Larentowicz said. “But, just like at times in the past, we can’t be as naive with some of the teams we’re playing against. They came in with a game plan and they executed and to give away that goal in the second half...the word is not unlucky.”
The word might not be unlucky. But it isn’t unprepared either.
“The exact thing that happened today we worked on this week. We did several days of transitioning behind the ball. A team like Dallas was going to try and break us. But we were prepared,” Larentowicz said. “A step here, a step there, a very good ball, a very good run, a very good goal, sometimes you get beat. We were prepared. Going forward I think you take a lot of the positives and eventually the goalkeeper’s not going to have an outstanding game.”
And the goalkeeper did have an outstanding game. Jesse Gonzalez went full Zack Steffen on Atlanta. It happens. It’s not going to make anyone feel great leaving the stadium tonight. But it doesn’t take away from the first shreds of merited optimism the Five Stripes have had this year.
“I think we really made progress today with how we played. I said to the team, I cannot expect more from you. I can say not to concede goals of course but you created chances. You dominated. You’re playing well,” de Boer said.
“If you play like this for 30 games you’re going to win 28. I think we made two steps forward today. Not with the result, I’m very disappointed, but I was proud of the intensity and how we played.”
To play devil’s advocate, even with the earned optimism, there’s still a fair amount of negative. If Atlanta doesn’t give up the early goal, does Dallas allow as much possession? Chances? Probably not. On top of that, the second Dallas goal made Mercedes-Benz Stadium look more Chicago Fire than Atlanta United. Sounded like it too. For the players, that’s just as disappointing as anything.
“We created chances. But we’re disappointed,” Michael Parkhurst said. “We talked about how it was important to win and put on a good performance in front of our fans and not taking for granted their support and their attendance. They’re here to see us play well and to see us win. So we want to win. It’s disappointing tonight.”
Atlanta has a chance to rebound next Saturday. In the same building. And if they play the same way as they did today against Colorado, it’s not crazy to assume the first home win of the year is near. If a few things just go the Five Stripes’ way this time.
Like FdB said: “Sometimes soccer is unfair. And maybe it was for us today.”
And I’m just throwing this out here...
Have we considered the idea that maybe FdB needs to...idk, carry someone up a mountain to absolve the debts of his ancestors or something?— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) April 20, 2019
DSS Man of the Match
FdB said tonight is as good as he’s seen Barco, including last week’s brace. He drew at least six fouls from our count and looked threatening throughout the night. An easy choice.
Larentowicz Man of the Match
JEFF LARENTOWICZ WINS HIS OWN GOT DANG AWARD THE ABSOLUTE GOAT.
(He was good and will never ever look old no matter how much you think he will.)
Tweet of the Night
We couldn’t find one. Accepting nominees.
Send all nominees to @japatrick200. Thanks.
Atlanta United returns to MBS next Saturday to take on Colorado. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m.