Atlanta United extended two winning streaks on Sunday afternoon. With their 1-0 win over Orlando City, they made it four in a row against the Lions and four in a row in MLS. The Five Stripes’ revival continued with a narrow win that wasn’t convincing, but the job was completed. Here are a few thoughts on another win over Orlando.
That Old Saying
You know the one. “It’s better to be lucky than good.” Well, Atlanta United was definitely that in this one. The first half went pretty well, even if Orlando led in expected goals, Pity Martinez’s first goal for the club was enough to have everyone feeling good. The second half is where things sort of tapered off. Around the hour mark, Orlando took off Dom Dwyer and introduced Chris Mueller. From then on, Atlanta just couldn’t get out of neutral. Orlando sent a barrage onto Brad Guzan’s goal and were pretty unlucky not to find an equalizer.
It’s understandable that Atlanta would wilt late in the game having just played at midweek and Orlando being the fresher of the two sides. This portion of the schedule is a grind. There’s even another midweek game, with cross-continent travel to boot, coming up again on Wednesday. Needless to say, you’ll take three points however you can get them right now. And that’s what Atlanta United keeps doing. Grinding out those points and steadily climbing the table. It wasn’t pretty but it got the job done.
Frank de Boer’s side tied an MLS record with their fourth straight clean sheet. Orlando had plenty of chances but Guzan came up clutch on a few occasions. Franco Escobar and Miles Robinson both had stellar performances once again. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was solid once again, standing up Dom Dwyer on several occasions. Once again, left back was a bit worrisome. Michael Parkhurst got the start as many predicted. While he was reliable in possession and calm on the ball, his lack of pace on the left side was taken advantage of several times. It’s basically a pick your poison scenario for De Boer at this point. Do you want reliable with one obvious flaw or unpredictable with the chance of seeing flashes of good? Right now, it seems like reliability will win out, still.
Rotate, Rotate, Rotate
Now is the time. An away trip to Vancouver awaits midweek. After three games in seven days, it’s time for De Boer to dig into the depth of this team and give guys a rest. In particular, Julian Gressel looks exhausted and banged up. There’s just no reason for him to play or even make the trip up to Canada. I’m sure there are a few others who fall into this category as well. Justin Meram looked lively in his short debut cameo. Dion Pereira has shown glimpses of his talent. Andrew Carleton still exists (we think). It’s time to give some of these players a run for the betterment of the squad’s fitness and form.
I’m VAR-y Mad
I know like to complain about VAR too much. It is what it is. I’m fine with the delayed offside flags if there is doubt. I’m not fine with minuscule offside calls being reviewed and overturned without conclusive evidence. Was Tito Villalba offside on Julian Gressel’s disallowed goal in the second half? Frankly, I don’t know. If he was it was a matter of an inch or even centimeters. When the call on the field is ruled onside and a goal, there is no way should that be overturned without it being clearly offside. I’m not okay with this. Even if it had been the other way around and Orlando had a goal disallowed the same way, I wouldn’t support that usage. It’s bad for the sport, in my honest opinion.