Tough call. On balance, I would have to say the game, because it ended a great streak. GoT’s poor streak, on the other hand, continued to the end.
All things considered, Atlanta United looked like a team that was at the end of a 5-games-in-15-days stretch. They were evidently tired, and increasingly so as the game wore on. Under most circumstances, that would be a reasonable explanation for the result. However, they played up a man for 55 minutes.
Red cards change everything. Prior to Tim Parker’s ejection (which was absolutely the correct call by Robert Sibiga), the New York Red Bulls had 48.3% possession and 4 shots, including 1 on goal. Afterwards, just 22.3% possession and 2 shots.1 of which scored, of course.
The Red Bulls went into full-fledged bunker mode:
35.5% of United’s passes were in the final third, the highest percentage all season. A whopping 37% of the game was played in that third. All to no avail.
The problem was similar to the one the Has-anyone-thought-how-the black-ones-look-like-bars-not Stripes have had with attacking possession all year: when they allow the opponent to get behind the ball, they have difficulty penetrating the densely packed defense. Their best games have been when they have managed to stretch the defense. This case was slightly different in that New York were forced by their own circumstances into that strategy, not by Atlanta’s play. And once they scored, they were just going to dig the trenches even deeper.
Atlanta managed a decent 13 shots in the game, all but 2 after the dismissal, but only 2 were on target and just 1 after the red card. Both shots on target were from long distance, and 1 of those was attempted by Michael Parkhurst. So United’s attack had just 1 shot on goal all game. That shot was right at the 52 minute mark, leaving Atlanta to play the last 38 minutes in utter futility. The team xG for the game was 0.92. Quite simply, that’s not good enough.
About the best thing that can be said for this game was that New York sub and goalscorer Tom Barlow (in only his second MLS appearance) may have atoned for his goal with this post-game:
So the team ended with 12 points in 15 days. Normally, that would be cause for rejoicing. But to lose that last 3 points in that way, and against that team, was deflating, to say the least. Atlanta now heads back cross-country to face Real Salt Lake, and hopefully they have a massive chip on their shoulders.
With that, here are the Dirty South Soccer Staff Player Ratings:
Man of the Match for this one was extremely difficult. No player can be said to have distinguished himself. The highest Audi Index in the game was New York defender Amro Tarek, who amassed a paltry 485 points. Atlanta’s best showing on that scale was Darlington Nagbe, with just 347 points. Whoscored.com gave its best rating to Miles Robinson, which frankly I don’t get. I guess I’ll call it for Nagbe, but that’s faute de mieux. No Special Mentions this time, for obvious reasons.
GK: Brad Guzan – 4. Brad had just 2 shots to deal with. 1 was easy, and he simply blew it on the second. His clean sheet streak ends at 521 minutes.
LB: Michael Parkhurst – 6. Just 1 interception in the game, and 1 shot on goal. Exited after 54 minutes as Frank de Boer started a late offensive push.
CB: Leandro Gonzalez Pirez – 6. 1 tackle, 3 interceptions, 2 clearances, and an absolutely disgusted look on his face after the goal (in which he was pretty much uninvolved). Taken out in the 80th minute as desperation started to set in.
CB: Miles Robinson – 5. 3 tackles, 1 clearance, 1 block. But the reason I don’t understand his high rating is that he allowed Barlow to get around him for the goal.
RB: Franco Escobar – 4.5. Gets docked a half point for the yellow, which puts him at 3 for the season. Just 1 tackles defensively, and didn’t really do much going forward either.
LDM: Jeff Larentowicz – 6. With New York’s obvious avoidance of any attempt to go up the middle (they were basically aiming for the corners all game), Jeff had little to do in this game.
RDM: Darlington Nagbe – 6. Darlington actually had a couple of defensive plays: 2 tackles and 1 interception, and his passing was below his standards: 62 passes for 88.7% accuracy. And that’s good enough for MOTM. Sheesh.
LM: Tito Villalba – 6. Tito had 4 shots in the game to lead the team, all off target. He gets bonus points for getting in Kemar Lawrence’s face and at least showing some emotion.
CAM: Pity Martinez – 4. 3 shots, 1 on target. Otherwise he was totally ineffective, with just 39 passes for 69.2% accuracy. He was, essentially, completely blocked out of the game by New York’s bunker.
RM: Julian Gressel – 5. Also ineffective. No shots and a measly 30 passes with 53.3% accuracy in 64 minutes of action.
FWD: Josef Martinez – 5. 2 shots in the game, neither on target, and was unable to connect on several other chances.
SUB: Brek Shea – 6. Brek came in to create more energy at left fullback, and made something of a difference, including one early cross that really should have been finished.
SUB: Dion Pereira – 6. Replaced Gressel, but took Tito’s position on the left, with Tito going right. He continues to show sparks, but with the Red Bulls staying compact, he didn’t really have much opportunity to do anything.
SUB: Romario Williams – 5. One last offensive move. Too little too late. Was never in a position to make a difference.
COACH: Frank de Boer – 7. Give him credit. He tried. He went full YOLO with his attacking subs. They just couldn’t get the job done.
STUART HOLDEN: – 5. Look, man, you were wrong on the red card. The Laws do not allow for that to be a yellow. Don’t try to walk your comments back, just own up to the goof, okay?