Time... what is it? In general the measure of it is completely arbitrary. Days on a calendar are based on a fixed thing like the sunrise and set and how long it takes for the Earth to spin in a circle, that’s pretty concrete. But my understanding is that it can be sucked into a blackhole too, so maybe it’s not exactly that fixed. It is the most valuable resource that we have. You simply cannot make more if it. Time needs to be jealously protected, it’s like gold if gold had actual value or utility. What I’m saying is that time is basically TAM. Nobody understands it and yet it’s tremendously important. There are rumblings that Frank de Boer does not deserve more of this treasure, but I assure you - once you read this list that argument will be put to bed.
1. The Columbus game could have ended in a draw.
As Frank de Boer said after the match, “If you look at the second half, we deserve at least a draw.” Just think, Atlanta could be headed out of the MLSisBACK tournament with zero wins, one draw and one goal scored. The progress shown by such a result is surely something to build upon.
2. The right adjustments were made
Frank de Boer mentioned making changes in the second half, saying, “That’s why we changed two players in the second half and that resulted in some chances for George Bello. Towards the last 10-15 minutes we had some good chances through Anton Walkes, fantastic saves by their goalkeeper. So yeah I’m disappointed in the result, but I’m pleased with the second half.”
There was much discussion in the pre-season about Tito, LGP, Julian Gressel, Darlington Nagbe, and pretty much everyone else leaving the team and how that might not be a good idea, but that’s clearly not a problem. While Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco are Designated Players who were brought in on 10+ish million dollar transfer fees, defenders George Bello and Anton Walkes are creating chances. Anton and Bello didn’t score, but the right adjustments were made, and they’ll keep being made, and that’s good even if the team doesn’t score. With more time, the scores will come.
3. Eventually the team will be able to make changes during a game
As we all know, Frank de Boer’s tactics take a while to set in. How many though? 50 games? 100? Who knows, we’ll find out. De Boer noted that the team can’t change how it plays unless it happens during the half, so this is going to be a slow process. As he said, “Right now, we aren’t capable to change and adapt like that during the game. I said some things during the hydration break that Fernando Meza needs to play like a defensive midfielder and Barco like a winger. It wasn’t exactly how we wanted it. So, I changed two guys at halftime.” Now that there’s a break and the team has a month or whatever to figure out what went wrong after having four months to figure things out before the tournament, the ability to make changes during a game will come.
4. Frank communicates best with a board
The adjustments that were made at the half that almost led to Atlanta United — a team that scored 70 goals one season — not scoring zero goals, could not be made during the first half despite an empty stadium with no fan noise and a water break. Frank needed a board as he discussed after the game, “ I’m shouting from the side, but it’s still difficult. I talked about it during the water break and it was a little bit better, but in the locker room at halftime is when I could really put it on the board what I expected. In the second half, there almost weren’t any problems anymore.” ***
5. Give Columbus credit, they are also a soccer team
The other team is also trying to win, in this case the other teams were the New York Red Bulls, FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew. See, in soccer, one team won’t just let the other team win - it doesn’t work that way. As Frank de Boer noted, “The first half was disappointing, but compliments to Columbus. They are a really good team. We were chasing them and couldn’t get our pressing on them.” Columbus just ran from Atlanta and Atlanta couldn’t catch them, these things happen.
6. We’ve been here before and it turned out awesome
Actually, we haven’t. I could have sworn last year there was a 5 game losing streak but there wasn’t. There was a 4 game winless streak at the beginning and then the team only scored 14 goals through the first 13 games and the coach said the fans had to lower their expectations or something. And then it changed when Josef screamed at the sideline to coach better or something and it turned around a little bit. Maybe that’ll happen again.
7. The team has time to practice now
Is the season going to be over? If the answer is no, then the team has more time on top of the time the team had before to fix things. Frank de Boer discussed his plans for the second offseason saying, “We don’t know the plan of MLS right now, but we can still practice a lot of what we want. Playing different systems and what we expect from them. We have enough time. I think we need the time to really train what we want to see and get confidence for when it starts up again.” Time. Systems. Confidence. Fire emoji. Face punch emoji. Emerson Hyndman picture.
8. The players are good actually
Fans might be upset. But this is soccer and fans being upset is what happens all the time, if something changed every time the fans were upset the roof at MBS would be open three times a year. The pieces are in place for the team to bounce back. As Frank de Boer said, “I’m convinced that with the players we have, we can really change this. If you see the second half, that’s what I want to see and we will continue in that.” The second half, I mean did you even watch the game FANS? DID YOU? DID YOU SEE THE CHANCES BY BELLO AND WALKES? DID YOU.
9. Josef is hurt
After the match, Frank de Boer mentioned something. He pointed out that, “We were of course disappointed with the injury of one of our best players. The last couple of seasons Josef Martinez has a major impact. He averages nearly 30 goals a season, so that’s of course disappointing to lose him.” Which is true, Josef has scored 20, 34, and 29 goals for Atlanta United. And in the season that he missed 14 games, the team had to find a second choice by going with Tito Villalba or Kenwyne Jones who combined for 8 goals from the striker position. Eventually an Atlanta United player will score a goal and that player will be the one who has replaced Josef... and Tito I guess.
10. Improvement is necessary
The coach also thinks the team has to improve, as he said after the game: “I think we have to improve, that’s clear.” Thinking that the team needs to improve from three losses with zero goals scored is the first step to improving, it’s necessary.
Are you convinced? Read it again. Then read it again and again and again. It’ll still be the same every time, but eventually you will change your mind because it’s not going anywhere. Unless it is.
***Author’s note: bold and italics text for emphasis, mine.