Before we get into the match recap, let’s do a quick season recap so we can establish the groundwork for Atlanta’s starting lineup against the New England Revolution. Atlanta United is missing a bunch of players right now. Due to injury, Atlanta is missing Emerson Hyndman, Franco Ibarra and Mo Adams. Atlanta is also missing George Bello, Brad Guzan, Miles Robinson and Ezequiel Barco, who were all called up for national team competition.
Atlanta United also missed Josef Martinez on Saturday. However, he’s still in Atlanta (in fact, he was in the stadium to watch the game) and he isn't injured. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know the little that I also know: Josef and Heinze have some sort of beef, which prompted Heinze to force Josef to train by himself and away from the team despite being in shape and healthy to play.
And that’s how we got to this starting lineup for Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
See, it isn’t Cubo Torres’ fault that he started in place of the currently exiled Josef Martinez. Heinze said so himself!
In fact, Cubo wasn’t even that bad today. But there was always going to be an uproar at his inclusion in the starting lineup because Josef is healthy and fit to play, Cubo also had an absolute blunder of a handball in Atlanta’s last game against Nashville. Minutes after conceding the bizarre penalty kick, Jackson Conway had come on and scored the equalizer.
So when the team sheets were released and fans saw that Cubo would be starting in place of Josef and Conway was on the bench, the stakes were raised even further for Heinze. The home fans expressed themselves in the 7th minute and began chanting Josef Martinez’s in a emptier-than-usual Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Then about 10 minutes later, the Revs scored the only goal of the game.
Well, the only goal that counted anyway. In the 20th minute, Amar Sejdic’s effort deflected off a Revs defender and into the path of Homegrown attacker Machop Chol, but the assistant referee deemed his goal offside. Here’s an explanation, per the Video Assistant Referee:
FWIW, I requested a pool reporter to ask the VAR why the Machop Chol goal was offside even after a deflection by a defending player. This was the response: pic.twitter.com/zhOAFiGH0u— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) July 17, 2021
Despite the loss, there were still a few bright spots that Atlanta can look at (and don’t think I’m saying things are great, because things are in fact, not great). Firstly, Atlanta only lost 1-0 to the best team and playmaker, Carles Gil, in the league. Despite the many absences, it was only 1-0. Not great, but hey, it’s something.
Atlanta also didn’t back down from the fight. The team created 15 shots to New England’s 13, though the Revs amassed .9 xG more than Atlanta United.
Recent singing Sejdic performed pretty well, slotting into the midfield and distributing the ball to his new teammates. Machop Chol did well, though he’s still very raw and needs more experience and time with the first team to continue his development.
“I think [Sejdic] is a really good player, really technical,” George Campbell said. “He’s good at helping our team build out. I was really excited to play with him.”
And that may have been about it. The Revs shutout Atlanta, marking the fourth time in Atlanta’s last five games that the Five Stripes have been held scoreless.
Heinze revealed after the match that Josef will be re-joining the first team on Sunday, though he wouldn’t give a reason as to why he separated Josef from the first team in the first place. Heinze also said he wants to see where the striker is fitness-wise, though two days ago he said his absence was not related to his fitness.
Atlanta United will face travel to TQL Stadium to face off against FC Cincinnati next Wednesday.