Atlanta United blew a two-goal lead late in the second half as Nashville SC stunned the Mercedes-Benz Stadium crowd by stealing a point on Saturday afternoon. The pair of defensive lapses and overall result will be a stain on what was an otherwise very positive performance on the day. Here are a few thoughts on the attack finally starting to wake up for Gabriel Heinze:
- The opening 70 minutes of this match was a breath of fresh air for the Atlanta United attack that desperately needed it. After failing to create much of anything recently, the ideas of Heinze’s system seemed to finally bear some fruit. The movement and interchanging was fluid and dangerous. We also saw positive things actually happen in the opposing team’s 18-yard box for a change.
- Marcelino Moreno’s move to the center of midfield seemed to be a big catalyst for this newfound spark in the attack. His ability to get on the ball and drive it forward was especially key on the second goal, probably the most well-worked goal since Heinze’s arrival in Atlanta. Moreno’s driving run up the middle opened up a ton of space for him to find George Bello on the left for a cross into Erik Lopez for the finish. This is the type of patterns of play that we hope to see a lot more of in the future. Having Moreno or Ezequiel Barco in the midfield to create that space with their driving runs will be crucial.
- Lopez’s fine backheel finish for his first-ever MLS goal was just the icing on the cake that was his great revelatory performance. This was far and away the most dangerous he’s looked for the Five Stripes. He offered some much-needed dynamism and creativity on the wing and showed what he can do when he gets a chance in front of goal, as well. Hopefully this is just the start of his emergence as a key attacking player for this side.
- Losing a two goal lead in the fashion that Atlanta did will be a tough blow. However, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that this is the best the attack has looked in quite some time. The defensive errors can easily be ironed out with the natural talent this team has. Finally seeing some life from the collective attack has to leave you with a sense of optimism as we head into June.