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Illustrated Box Score - Atlanta United 0-0 New York Red Bulls: Expulsion from the Garden of Eden

Selling your soul to taste the forbidden fruit

Study for Expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Photo by: Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Atlanta United have done it. Sort of. There’s one more game, but they’ve all but clinched a playoff spot. Here’s what they have to do to make the post season according to Mike Conti:

In case they do lose by 7+ goals go ahead and captain Brandon Vazquez in fantasy for that one because he’s coming for Barco.

Enough about the future, this is a post about the cold, dark, dead past - the beginning of time even.

Wikipedia tells us that:

the composition is divided exactly in half. On the viewer’s right is Paradise, from which Adam and Eve are forcibly thrust by a bright ray of light, which likely symbolizes God. Paradise emanates radiance and is a source of light and joy in the universe. It is vibrant, full of life with lush wildlife, and blue skies. On the left side of the picture, the outside world is portrayed as the opposite of Paradise. It is dark and ominous, as hinted in the decaying trees, volcano in the background, and the wolf devouring a deer in the bottom left corner, as a vulture flies by, hoping to scavenge some of the carcass.

Obviously, the Bible is metal AF but this tells us more than that. Clearly, this was the gameplan for Atlanta United - divide the field into bright and dark halves and hang out in the dark side with the volcano and wolf.

In practical terms, Atlanta United did this by playing essentially a 5-2-0-3 leaving the attackers to fend for themselves and denying New York a chance to transition in numbers to press their way to victory. NYRB doesn’t want the ball, they want to take it from you and then give you a swirly in front of the whole school. Atlanta did their own version of that by not wanting the ball but also not wanting to take the ball from NYRB and possibly mess up the swirly. What this looked like was the front three being left to go 3v6 whenever they found themselves with the ball as the first half stats showed:

This seems bad but was actually perfect and exposed the Red Bulls for what they are. A team that plays a weirdo system that wins games by running a lot rather than having to play actual soccer. Forced to break Atlanta down, NYRB couldn’t do it, though Brad Guzan and the woodwork had to work hard to stop them also.

It was so close to a perfect game for Atlanta United but then George Bello lost the perfect game and gave up a shot on target in the 9th.

As far as the player stats, they were somehow more perfect and really, Atlanta deserved better than giving up that late hit.

The team stats also show this. For New York, they crossed a lot, controlled the wide areas and the midfield. They also ran so much, there was so much running, just a tremendous amount of running. But for all the crossing and running, they just managed three shots on target. In short, to quote the great Dom Toretto, “you almost had ME? YOU NEVER HAD YOUR CAR.”

The key to the game were the substitutions for Luis Araujo and Marci Moreno to bring in Ronald Hernandez and Josef Martinez. Up to that point Atlanta United was bing over run in midfield, the five man backline was costing stability in the midfield and the ball was not making its way forward to the attackers, which was good, but not quite perfect. Taking off Araujo for a defender ensured that the Brazilian wouldn’t get a second yellow card and bringing in Josef for a player capable of dropping into midfield to move the ball into the attack ensured that New York couldn’t win possession in midfield.

Atlanta continued to dominate, but the real nail in the coffin came in the 86th minute when Jurgen Damm came on. This truly solidified the gameplan of having absolutely no interest in keeping the ball or shooting it or anything, unfortunately George Bello got a short on target and basically ruined it.

The only concerning thing is that this was the most Seattle Soundersass game Atlanta United has ever played. It was lethally effective but was the kind of thing you do if you’re in 10th place and need to salvage a draw on the road by embarrassing the league on national TV after the World Cup final.