It’s official: the only winner is 2020 and all of us are the losers. Even Arthur Blank is taking the L this year.
If a billionaire philanthropist, and by all accounts terrific pro sports owner, isn’t immune to the hilariously awful twists and turns of fate that we’ve seen these past 6 months, what does that mean for the rest of us?
Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to Inter Miami represented a new low, as the team dropped points at home to one of the weakest teams in the league and fell below the playoff line. (Playing second fiddle to Miami and not making the playoffs? We might be the new Orlando...)
There’s a chance a loss against FC Dallas on Wednesday will drop us down to rock bottom of the league and give us yet another rock bottom for our (still) beloved franchise.
To give a sense of how far Atlanta United has fallen, even Twitter’s resident #ATLUTD optimist Mike Conti admitted the awful truth:
And if that weren’t enough to darken your week, there’s this:
Jon Gallagher, Jake Mulraney, and George Bello
“I thought that our two wingers were extremely dangerous tonight: Jon and Jake,” said Jeff Larentowicz after the match. “Jon gets the goal and played really well and was extremely dangerous. The danger that those players created was good.”
The goal was the first-ever MLS goal for Gallagher, and it came off the first-ever MLS assist for George Bello. Hard to believe, but yes, it was his first one!
“It’s a mixed bag of emotions,” Gallagher said. “Obviously, I am delighted to have scored my first goal. It has been a long time at the club kind of working my way up from the USL team and to have a moment like tonight was really special for me and my family. But as I said, the mixed bag of emotions obviously because the team is in a bit of a tough spell.”
Jeff says he is feeling okay now.— Joe Patrick (@japatrick200) September 20, 2020
Atlanta in the Box
Atlanta United’s 0.46 xG tells the story of the team’s futility in Miami’s final third. Adam Jahn and Cubo Torres only had 33 total touches and 3 shots:
As the team scrambled to equalize late in the match, plenty of crosses came in but there was no end product. Cubo had a solid chance to head in a goal in the 69th minute, his only shot of the match, but he flubbed it in true 2020 fashion.
“[Miami] packed the center of the pitch, so it was a case of getting the ball wide and getting it in,” said Stephen Glass. “Maybe we needed slightly better deliveries, or there were a couple of crosses where there was a lack of attacking runners in the box. Both were contributing factors to not scoring a goal late on.”
Defending the Counter
The first 15 minutes of the match were both insane and indicative that the messages manager Stephen Glass delivers during training aren’t translating to match days.
“I think the first goal we lost on a counter-attack,” Glass said. “That was something we specifically talked about heading into the match.”
Jeff echoed the point: “Their counter-attack, their speed on the break was something we spoke about all week and it still bit us on the first goal.”
It wasn’t only the counter though. Miami had plenty of high-percentages chances all night:
The defense looks even worse on the xG chart:
Ezequiel Barco’s Body
I almost want to give the team a break considering they had to play without a single Designated Player, the first time this has ever happened in club history. Ezequiel Barco was out again with a knock, which WebMD defines as an injury the manager does not want to discuss in more detail.
“It was Friday that he’s hurt his leg, so he couldn’t play tonight,” Glass said. “That’s as much as I can share to be honest. We are very hopeful he will be ready for Wednesday.”
Poor Barco. Nagging little injuries have forced him to miss several matches already this season, after starting just 11 of 34 regular-season MLS matches last year.
¡Salud, nuestro querido Barquito!