Well ... it finally happened. Atlanta United have finally lost to Orlando City. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise but it still doesn’t feel very good. All it took was for the Five Stripes to be at the worst point they’ve ever been at and for Orlando to be at their best. Here are some words on a reality check of a result.
- Atlanta opened the match looking eager and willing. Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese turned the tides early on with a massive save on a Brooks Lennon header that appeared destined for the back of the net. The Peruvian’s spectacular diving save quickly shifted momentum in the Lions’ favor. After Brad Guzan was unable to make a save on a header at the other end the hole was dug.
- Orlando dominated Atlanta’s midfield throughout the first half, setting the tone and making life difficult at every turn for Stephen Glass’ side. Eventually, the clogged midfield led Atlanta to resort to attempted long balls up the field, a tactic that would backfire and result in Orlando’s second goal. A brilliantly executed counter-attack after a failed, misguided ball up the field led to Chris Mueller knocking in an easy finish after some beautiful passing.
- Aside from the Lennon header that Gallese kept out early in the match, the Five Stripes mustered very little in the way of chances created. Nothing was going their way when they actually did get control of the ball from Orlando’s dominant midfield. Whether it was misplaced passes or players just not having options, the attack looked incredibly disjointed and void of ideas.
- Some halftime adjustments and Orlando being willing to concede possession a little more alleviated some of the stress, but Atlanta never really looked threatening. One of the lone bright spots in the match was when Jurgen Damm entered in the 79th minute for his debut. Within 10 minutes of coming onto the field, the Mexican international had delivered the two best crosses Atlanta United has seen all season, one of which resulted in an assist to Lennon for the team’s only goal of the game.
- It’s not worth pointing out individual mistakes and performances from this one. Overall, the collective was just not good enough. The better team clearly won on the day and all you can do is tip your hat and look internally.
- While many may not agree, it’s hard to get overly angry about losses these days. Obviously there’s other things going on the world that take up those emotions. But just from an Atlanta United perspective, it’s time to accept that this season just isn’t going to be very good. If that’s new news to you, I’m very sorry to have to be the one to inform you. This club is very much in a transition period. If the MLS is Back Tournament didn’t make it clear that this team isn’t good enough, then I don’t know what to tell you. Things weren’t going to magically get better in a month’s time. It’s going to take some time and some pain for the good ole days to return. The good news is that the future isn’t as bleak as it looked a month ago. The club understand that mistakes have been made and the hope for a brighter future is out there. It’s just going to require some patience. As this match shows, there are going to be some bad days between now and then.