Atlanta United were dominated by New York City FC on Wednesday and lost 4-1 to end any hope of getting the top playoff seed in the East and home-field advantage until at least MLS Cup. The Josef Martinez and Ezequiel Barco-less lineup went about as expected and the Five Stripes were completely outplayed by the East leaders. Here are a few thoughts on a predictable loss:
- Some losses are very painful. Some losses are hard to stomach. This loss was not one of them. If you didn’t anticipate this outcome, you weren’t being honest with yourself. NYCFC had the better lineup and a massive home-field advantage that they know how to utilize effectively. Atlanta United had the chance to surprise with a good performance, but they did not.
- Goalkeeper coach Aron Hyde summed everything up beautifully with his halftime TV interview on FOX Sports South by calling the first half performance “rubbish” and “not good enough”. He also called it a “wake up call” for everyone and that’s a perfect description for the rest of the season and playoffs. It’s time to lower your expectations if you’re still expecting MLS Cup or bust.
- Atlanta United now, most likely, have to win two away one-legged playoff matches to capture the cup. Sure, they could get lucky and avoid all of that and I hope they do. But the odds point to a very tough road ahead against possible teams like NYCFC, Philadelphia Union, LAFC and Seattle Sounders.
- As we’ve been saying, this season can be considered nothing less than a good one on the whole. But right now, it’s not looking great for a successful finish and that’s fine. Only one team can lift MLS Cup and sometimes circumstances and timing don’t go your way. If Josef and Barco were healthy maybe things are different. But this is the hand that is dealt and we must accept that.