Atlanta United essentially handed the Eastern Conference title to NYCFC after losing to the Philadelphia Union, a team of such fraudulence that it managed to lose its grip on first place in the East despite not playing any games over the past game week. All in all, the match against the Philadelphia Union was the kind of thing that happens when a team plays eight games in a month. After winning two trophies in pretty convincing and thrilling style, Atlanta went to Chester and played 60 minutes of solid, if not wasteful-in-front-of-goal soccer. Sadly, 60 minutes was not enough and Philly ran off with the game and a chance to finish second in the East in the last 30 minutes.
Luckily, Atlanta just had a long break to rest up, will get to play against the third worst team in MLS, and open their final push for the playoffs at home.
It’s called a Porter
I don’t mean the gastropub in Little 5 Points, I mean this:
From now on, the soccer term for losing a lead or turning a draw into a loss after the 75th minute is called a Porter - it's the blown save of soccer— Rekrap Dnalevelc (@AekprrAcdeellnv) August 18, 2019
For example, wow, Columbus has like 8 Porters this year https://t.co/zgLtWrPKuI
If you want to know how it’s going in Columbus this year, that basically sums it up. It seemed like the team had figured out a secret to faking their way to being good in MLS this year by basing their offensive strategy off of centerback Gaston Sauro scoring all of their goals. It turned out that didn’t work in the end. After going 4-1-1 to begin the year, the Crew have gone 4-6-14. It’s not good.
The Crew are coming off of a game in which they took a 1-0 lead against the Chicago Fire into the 94th minute and then had a Porter when Przemysław Frankowski inevitably scored a game to even the score at 1-1. Also, did you know Michael Azira plays for the Fire now? It seems like Columbus is doomed to a lost season without few positives. Caleb Porter hasn’t gotten anything resembling the production that Gregg Berhalter did out of Gyasi Zardes, Federico Higuain’s injury left a void in the roster that was never filled, and the addition of David Guzman from Portland did little to make a difference along with the other new players brought in.
If there’s a bright spot, the Crew did sign Luis Diaz and, while they are having a terrible season, it cannot be underestimated how valuable it is that they are not the Chicago Fire. If there’s another bright spot, having Eloy Room at keeper is pretty cool - I can’t wait for Curaçao to knock the USA out of the Nations League.
As far as this game, the Crew definitely don’t have the personnel to bunker and Caleb Porter wouldn’t have the sense to try to do that anyway. They also aren’t great at pressing, building possession, scoring goals, or defending, so it might be a long day at the Benz for the visitors.
Do you ever think about how Darth Vader thought he knew what Luke’s destiny was, but the whole time he was on the mud planet with Yoda and spent all his time trying to make out with his sister?
Destiny is a funny thing, you can try to control it, but the concept of controlling something that is foretold is pretty difficult to wrap your head around. Therefore, even though Atlanta United controls its own destiny, it does not control its own destiny, because if it could do that, then it would be all powerful, and from watching some of the things that have happened to the team this year - I can tell you that it is indeed not all powerful.
Sure, New York could lose and Philly could lose and Atlanta could win at Yankee Stadium and blah, blah, blah, it’s boring at this point and all of the ifs are pretty iffy. The season was essentially decided in Philadelphia, Atlanta had a shot at the East but, outside of a series of events that seem pretty unlikely now, do not seem like they’ll be the top seed heading into the playoffs. Still, the Union have a tough stretch coming up and if they are going to claim second will have to be as good as their fans think they are.
As far as this match, Atlanta has been having success with the 3-5-2 once again and that should continue against the Columbus Crew. Josef Martinez is scoring at will and dripping with confidence, Pity Martinez has figured somethings out about MLS maybe, and Julian Gressel has seemingly not played two soccer games in one week for the first time in all of 2019. This should be the type of game that Atlanta breezes through as the team finishes the season with six games over the next three weeks.
I just want everyone who reads this to know this exists
Neiman Marcus sells a couch that looks like a hot dog for $7,100. What a time to be alive. pic.twitter.com/NZOonDnALK— Timothy Aeppel (@TimAeppel) September 12, 2019
Atlanta United can’t do a Porter
Given my dismissal of the idea of destiny, it is important for Atlanta to win this game and to work on some of the somewhat concerning things that have come up in games as of late. Atlanta United doesn’t just need to win the game, the team needs to keep mistakes to a minimum, and not do things to put the remaining matches in jeopardy. The stretch run will again be congested and while the Crew and Cincinnati are easy to overlook with San Jose and NYCFC looming, those teams will undoubtedly take their best shot at Atlanta United.