I said in the last ratings post that Pity Martinez was the only Atlanta United player on the field who played with any kind of urgency. I guess we now know why. The Pity era is over and changes are afoot.
Stephen Glass was presumably aware of the developments before the news broke early Wednesday, and he was left with some decisions to make with regard to the line-up. On that note, it behooves me to point out two things which Tata Martino and Frank de Boer had in common. First, they both had to deal with fixture congestion but doggedly refused to rotate the players much. Second, they each had a plan, and stuck with it for the most part.
Granted, Glass’ mandate is likely somewhat different, but in three games to date he has started 16 field players and used three entirely different formations (3-4-3, 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-4-1). Some of the rotation is due to injuries and suspensions of course, and in Pity’s case, a transfer. Nevertheless, this is hardly a model of consistency. It’s the sporting equivalent of throwing pasta against the wall and seeing if it sticks. So far, the results have been decidedly less than al dente. You’d think he was a second team coach whose job is to try players out…
Wednesday’s game was about the most boring outing the team has played to date. This was only the fourth scoreless draw in the club’s history, and the first in almost three years, and to my recollection the previous three were actually entertaining (in particular the game in Seattle on 3/31/17).
This one was far from that. The two teams involved have combined for 13 goals in 16 games, so an attacking showcase was hardly on the cards. Between them Atlanta and Miami generated three decent chances on goal and had an aggregate xG of just 1.37. Those three chances all ended up well over the crossbar (coming from Erick Torres, Victor Ulloa and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez). The game featured only 4 shots on target (just one from Atlanta, a weak long-range attempt by Matheus Rossetto), and only one from inside the penalty area.
Worse, Mami outshot Atlanta 10-5. Atlanta is averaging 9.13 shots per game this season, well off the historical average of 14.29.
It’s as if neither team was interested in winning. Check the heatmap:
A complete avoidance of the attacking third on both ends. And when did you last see an Atlanta United team play that much on the back foot? And that was with a relatively aggressive formation. Unfortunately, strategy simply stalled in the midfield (which was fairly fluid most of the time, but utterly failed to penetrate).
A big part of that was the endless fouling by both sides:
Atlanta’s fouls are in white, Miami’s in green. 39 of them in total, and how players avoided cards for persistent infringement is beyond me. But they are clustered in the midfield. Intentional disruption of play all around. And there were plenty more fouls that didn’t get called. That’s cynical CONCACAF stuff right there.
Even so, Atlanta has lost its offensive direction. Whether it will be found again any time this season remains to be seen.
Other than that, there really isn’t much to be said about this performance. It was nice to see LGP back at the Benz and doing LGP things (i.e., getting a card) and also Brek Shea, doing...whatever it is that Brek Shea does.
Let’s move on, then, to the Dirty South Soccer Staff Player Ratings:
Man of the Match goes to Eric Remedi, who was in total control of the defensive midfield. A Special Mention goes to Jürgen Damm, for getting into it with Ben Sweat.
GK: Brad Guzan – 6. Brad was called on to make 3 saves, only one of which was anything more than routine. Not really tested in this one.
LB: Edgar Castillo – 4. I’d forgotten he was even on the roster. if only the coaching had forgotten as well. His defensive numbers are fine: 3 tackles, 1 interception, 3 clearances and 6 recoveries. His passing stats over 83 minutes also don’t seem bad: 83.3% accuracy on 48 passes. But the ones he missed were absolute howler giveaways.
CB: Anton Walkes – 5.5. Anton is doing pretty well as a center back so far. 1 tackle, 2 interceptions, 6 clearances and 5 recoveries. Picked up a yellow card for an unnecessary foul on Brek Shea (unnecessary because it was Brek Shea).
CB: Miles Robinson – 6. A solid game from Miles. 1 tackle, 1 interception, 2 clearances, 1 block and 5 recoveries. But what does it say when the top two passers in the game were the two center backs?
RB: Franco Escobar – 4.5. Not much better than Castillo on the other flank. 4 tackles, 2 clearances and 4 recoveries. His passing was about the same, and he got a silly yellow card in second half stoppage time.
DM: Eric Remedi – 6. Eric took 2 of Atlanta’s 5 shots (both off frame) and was generally very solid as the sole defensive midfielder. He was also fouled a whopping 8 times.
LAM: Ezequiel Barco – 6. Left the game after 63 minutes, visibly frustrated, and with good reason. He was fouled 5 times, had one off-target shot and achieved 79.1% completion on 43 passes.
CAM: Matheus Rossetto – 6. Not bad work - 91.5% accuracy on 59 passes. But other than 2 corner kicks, all of them were stuck in the central third. And there’s that lone shot on goal.
CAM: Emerson Hyndman – 5. A real meh game from Emerson, who went 82.9% on 41 passes in 62 minutes.
RAM: Brooks Lennon – 4. Brooks played 77 minutes and managed a paltry 26 passes for 82.9% accuracy. On the other hand, he did send in the cross that Erick Torres should have scored on...
FWD: Erick Torres – 4. That one chance could have changed the whole game. He blew it big time, but that’s one more shot than Adam Jahn managed in the last 2 two games.
SUB: Jake Mulraney – 4. Came on for Hyndman. He attempted just 7 passes. He connected on one of them. He also picked up a yellow card, but I’m not docking him for it because of the fouls that deserved cards, this wasn’t one of them. In fact, it wasn’t a foul at all.
SUB: Tyler Wolff – 5. At 17 years and 202 days, he doesn’t come close to Andrew Carleton’s MLS debt at 16 years and 332 days. But Glass is clearly committed to youth development. Tyler didn’t exactly bklow the roof off, but was solid, going 8 of 10 on passing.
SUB: Jürgen Damm – 5. Came on in the 77th minute and completed all 3 of his passes.
SUB: George Bello – 5. A late cameo appearance, in which he logged just 1 tackle and 4 passes (missing on one of them).
COACH: Stephen Glass – 5. Glass needs to find a plan, a personality (for the team, not for himself) and a path to success. And quickly.
FAKE FANS – 0. You guys were perfect 2 games ago. But you need to learn how to boo.