Atlanta United dropped to 10th in the Eastern conference with a 1-0 loss away to New York City FC on Wednesday night. The Five Stripes put up a feeble performance and were thoroughly dominated at Red Bull Arena en route to the loss. NYCFC’s Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored the match’s lone goal in the 69th minute, finishing off a nice counter-attack for the Pigeons.
Here are a few meandering thoughts on Atlanta United’s struggles so far and what needs to happen for things to turnaround:
Missing Josef Martinez is undoubtedly a tough blow. However, the club has had just about two and a half years to replace Miguel Almiron with another star caliber player and have failed on many fronts. When your team is built around one focal superstar and that player is either not in top form or unavailable things aren’t going to be pretty. We’ve learned that lesson many times over the past 18 months. At some point the front office has to swallow its pride and admit that transfer decisions they’ve made, as far back as 2018, are not going to work out the way they planned.
Ezequiel Barco is a talented soccer player but it’s unequivocally apparent at this point that he’s not what Atlanta United needs. If there are still people in front office that feel differently they are simply delusional and unwilling to accept reality. If there is legitimate transfer interest in Barco from other leagues and he’s willing to move, it’s time to admit defeat and take the net loss on his transfer.
At the end of the day, opening up options to add attacking options the squad desperately needs is what needs to happen for any chance of seeing improvement in the near future. Gabriel Heinze can make all the adjustments and tweaks in the world, but the simple truth is that the squad he has to work with just doesn’t have enough attacking talent that fits what he wants to do, even when Josef Martinez is back.
The front office’s track record of big signings since the inaugural roster was built is pretty dismal. From Barco to Pity Martinez to Jurgen Damm to Marcelino Moreno. Just one signing after another that leaves much to be desired from an attacking production standpoint.
When 19-year-old left back George Bello is your most creative attacking force, something has gone horribly wrong.
Until there’s a willingness to admit that mistakes have been made and that drastic measures need to be taken, it’s hard to see this team performing to a level that see’s them contending for anything.
You can make all of the minuscule day-to-day excuses you want for some bad results, but you can’t gloss over extremely poor long-term decisions that have handicapped the roster from both a financial and tactical standpoint. You can only point the finger at the manager’s seat so many times before the one constant in place for the last three years, making these important decisions, comes to the forefront of the criticism.
This summer transfer window really feels like a turning point for Atlanta United’s most important decision makers. It’s either time for a moment of clarity and an admission that mistakes have been made or it’s time to start asking questions about if the right people are making the important talent acquisition decisions.