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De’s Nuggets: Well, Actually Stats Do Lie Sometimes

Riding high on the hog

MLS: Toronto FC at Atlanta United FC Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

In the dark days of #deBoerOut, back when Atlanta United was at or near the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, many took solace in the fact that while the Five Stripes were not earning points, at least they were controlling matches and creating chances.

Some of De Boer’s greatest hits so far came from that time. Remember that 2-1 loss to FC Dallas back on 4/20 (a.k.a. Brek Shea Day)? Following the match, the Dutch Philosopher reminded us that “soccer is unfair” and the uncertainty is the reason why the “game is so beautiful.” He even famously told his players, “If you play like this, I think from the 30 games remaining, you will win 28.”

And De Boer relayed a similar sentiment back in March after a 2-0 loss to Columbus, telling the media, “I think we weren’t the worst team on the pitch, and maybe sometimes we were equal, and sometimes we were better.”

In essence, he was telling us not to worry because the team was improving and over time, thanks to the law of averages, the results would come. I thought he made a solid case for why the hand-wringing among the #ATLUTD faithful was way too premature.

Fast forward to this Sunday’s match, a hard-fought 1-0 win against our “rival” Orlando City. As DSS pointed out, Orlando were “pretty unlucky not to find an equalizer.” And in a wild turn of events, Matt Doyle shared the same opinion as Rob Usry.

“[Orlando] should have been tied or ahead at the half,” Doyle said on the MLS MatchDay Central broadcast. “They left points on the board with sloppy finishing once again.”

The sloppy finishing included this sad attempt by extremely former USMNT international Dom Dwyer, who would later be rewarded with an early sub:

The stats told the same story. Besides the possession numbers, the two teams were fairly even, with Orlando finishing ahead in the expected goal tally:

Match Facts

Stat Atlanta United Orlando City
Stat Atlanta United Orlando City
xG 1.05 1.65
Possession 62% 38%
Shots 13 10
Shots on Target 5 4
Key Passes 8 7

Everyone seemed to agree that the Five Stripes should be grateful they were able to escape with three points.

Well, everyone except Frank de Boer. When asked if his team were fortunate to win, he said:

“No, I don’t think so, because I think we were a much better team. At the end I think the best team won.”

In fairness, FdB did go on to say his team was “too sloppy and overconfident” at times and Orlando “could have scored very easily two goals.”

But to admit this and still claim you were the “much better team”? That takes some serious nuggets confidence. Much respect to de Boer, who lucky or not, is riding high on a positive run of results.