I’m just going to level with y’all and tell you up front that I was not closely following Atlanta United’s preseason finale in Birmingham, in which Atlanta scored the lone goal in two 70 (?) minute matches. I did all my catching up through the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Doug Roberson, who live-tweeted the day’s action.
Anton Walkes scored the goal for Atlanta, with Mikey Ambrose on the assist, which can be seen here.
My reading of the gameplay was that it was a choppy and dull session in which neither side generated much and Atlanta United failed to connect on any combinations that lead to goalscoring chances. And the same goes for the players on an individual level — no one stood out and no one impacted the game in a meaningful way.
Does that performance ring an ominous tone for the start of the campaign which take place next week on the road in Costa Rica against LD Alajuelense?
I’m not reading much into it. While we (fans, media) like to think of these scrimmages as “games,” the coaching staff and players will treat them much more more like conditioning sessions. The primary purpose is to get players used to the rhythm of games and exerting certain amounts of energy for certain periods of time. Yes, it’s also a chance to implement some tactical ideas. But we know based on the fact that both lineups used Sunday mixed various “starters” with depth and Academy players, the tactics were rudimentary and not the focus of the exercise. And unlike what would happen if these matches mattered in the slightest, Atlanta would have had a strenuous training session (or two) the day prior.
On the other side of the coin, Atlanta has racked up some laughable wins (6-0, 8-0 score lines) in these scrimmages with other MLS clubs before getting their asses handed to them by the Houston Dynamo in the first game of the season.
That’s my only real thought about this. Let’s hear yours.