The real losers in any 0-0 draw are narcoleptics and those tasked with writing about them the next day. Even the teams involved each get a point out of it. For us bloggers though? It’s an exercise in turd polishing.
[Editor’s Note: Whips Payson and yells MUSH! MUSH!]
Having said that, I feel for all Atlanta United fans this week. The Five Stripes lost for the first time ever against Orlando City (at The Benz!) last weekend and this draw against Inter Miami CF puts Atlanta in 9th place in the Eastern Conference.
Oh, and the news of Pity Martinez’s imminent sale to Saudi club Al-Nassr also dropped not long before kickoff. While it’s a good bit of business from the front office, I’m disappointed to see the Pity saga, which so many of us were wild-eyed optimists about a few years ago, come to such an unceremonious close.
“It wasn’t great,” resident truth-teller Brad Guzan told the media after the match. “We need to be realistic. When the performance isn’t to the standard we expect, we can’t kid ourselves.”
Just another day in 2020.
I’m saving this match on my DVR for those days when I have caffeine after lunch.
Miles Robinson & Anton Walkes
The Atlanta United center back pairing played well, keeping a clean sheet and doing their best to retain possession. Robinson and Walkes had the most touches in the match (89 and 85 respectively) with a passing accuracy of around 90% for each.
Hard not to really like what I’ve seen from the Walkes/Robinson partnership the past ~150 minutes so— Ryan Catanese (@rcatanese) September 2, 2020
Unfortunately, a lot of this was pointless because they weren’t able to connect with the attack much. As Brad Guzan said, “We have conversations after the game and at times they are able to find passing lanes and break lines going forward, but at other times it’s more difficult.”
Against Miami, a team at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, it was extremely difficult.
The best news of the night came in the 62nd minute::
Congrats Tyler Wolff on your @MLS debut! pic.twitter.com/MY9bNeiM2U— ATLUTD Academy (@AcademyATLUTD) September 3, 2020
olff is the son of Stone Mountain’s own Josh Wolff, who came to the Atlanta United Academy last season.
“I thought he was excellent on his debut,” Glass said about the Wolff man. “He possibly had an opportunity to score a goal if the delivery was slightly better. But I think in terms of his composure and how he worked for the team, he showed a good understanding of what we want and I’m sure there is more to come from him.”
Guido Gonzales lived up to his name with another example of abysmal MLS Pro refereeing. He made a total of 39 foul calls, but he was hesitant to give out yellow cards early on in the match. He never gained control and as a result, the match was agony to watch as any new offensive threat was quickly snuffed out with a tactical foul.
Last season, opposing teams fouled Atlanta United an average of about 12 times per match. But on Wednesday night, Eric Remedi alone was fouled 8 times. (You may have noticed how frequently he was on the ground gathering black turf pellets.) LGP committed the most fouls in the match with 4 and picked up a yellow card.
Shocking, I know.
Set Piece Defending
What on earth are Atlanta United doing on corner kicks? This time, Miami’s Victor Ulloa ran into the box completely unmarked for a free header, which gave LGP a scoring chance that he missed. Just watch this hilariously poor defending straight out of Sunday rec league.
“The quality in the final third was probably lacking a little bit,” Glass said in a classic bit of British understatement.
Atlanta had just 5 shots, 4 of which came from outside the 18. According to Opta, it was just the second time Atlanta United hasn’t scored at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. And it’s never a good sign when nearly have your shots come from Eric Remedi:
The xG was excruciatingly low last night:
Absolutely no one asked for this. pic.twitter.com/HzSLRBmrCy— Joe Patrick (@japatrick200) September 3, 2020
The best chance for Atlanta came off a nice Brooks Lennon cross into Erik “Cubo” Torres, who mishit the volley into the empty stands.
“It was a very fast play,” Cubo said. “Without a doubt it should have ended up on goal. It could have been different, maybe the goalkeeper saves it or anything happens.”
With Cubo still working off the rust, Pity Martinez heading to Saudi Arabia, and the uncertainty of adding an effective attacking DP during the window, it’s difficult to see where the chances are going to come from this season.
Speaking of Pity, the news of his sale added even more uncertainty into the Atlanta United locker room. Cubo even admitted he was as in the dark as everyone else on the details.
“I wasn’t well-informed on everything,” he said after the match. “I still don’t know if it’s official or not or much about the topic honestly.”
“It’s certainly not easy when you have guys coming in and out of the lineup for one reason or another, guys trying to find their fitness, trying to find the chemistry and understanding with one another,” said Guzan. “When this stuff happens, you shake his hand, you wish him well and you get on with it. Players come, players go. It is what it is.”
It is what it is. What a perfect summation of what this season’s become. Onward to Orlando!!