After a tumultuous week for Atlanta United on and off the field, it’s safe to say that it was a massive relief fro everyone involved to see the team go on the road to FC Cincinnati and put forward an entertaining performance. While a win would have been ideal, no one around these parts is scoffing at a road point. But the sense of optimism going forward is perhaps the biggest win on the night.
GK Alec Kann 8: Alec Kann has shown off his impressive reactions and shot-stopping ability in the last two matches since taking over for Brad Guzan. Kann made 5 saves Wednesday night, including at least a couple absurd stops. Distribution was dicey has he was nearly caught out at the back by Cincinnati’s pressing forwards, but in the end no harm no foul.
LB Ronald Hernandez 7: First, a tip of the cap to Hernandez for scoring on his full debut for the club — always a cool accomplishment. While clearly an atypical fit at left back as a right footed player, Hernandez was mostly solid. His athleticism helped Atlanta deal with Cincinnati’s dynamic players on the right side.
CB Anton Walkes 6: Walkes was solid playing in a new shape at the back — now with less help than he may have previously had with a back 3. By now, we know his quality and expect him to be a very consistent performer and elader for Atlanta at the back.
CB Alan Franco 6: I thought this was the most comfortable Franco has looked since joining Atlanta. And I think it’s no surprise that he played in his most natural position — a right sided center back in a back two. That’s where he excelled for Independiente and hopefully he can make the position his own (though with a back two, there’s major competition for places once Miles Robinson returns from the Gold Cup).
RB Brooks Lennon 7: Lennon was a beneficiary from the way Valentino tweaked the shape with Santiago Sosa pushing further forward. It allowed Lennon to find more space pushing up the right side, and he was constantly asking for the ball in lots of space with his boots on the touchline. He was second on the team in total touches and passes, and his runs late in the game were critical to help Atlanta make the breakthrough to score the equalizer and nearly a winner.
CM Santiago Sosa 7: Interim coach Rob Valentino didn’t change the team’s shape a ton, but Sosa wore the burden of having the biggest adjustment to make. No longer playing as a hybrid center back, Sosa had more responsibility and freedom to roam and play in the middle of the park. How did he do? He led the team in touches, passes, passed at the highest percentage, had a tackle, two chances created, and two shots himself. That’s the kind of all-around game that Atlanta United fans would love to see unleashed.
CM Amar Sejdic 6: I really like Sejdic’s game. He has a knack for knowing where the space is for him to take his first touch, which slows down the game and gives him a chance to pick his head up and find a pass. He’s a passer the team has desperately needed since the loss of Hyndman, and dare I say he actually does some things better than Hyndman himself. His partnership alongside Sosa wasn’t perfect Wednesday night, but they will gel more and more over the coming weeks and I’d expect Sejdic to become a regular piece in the squad this season.
LW Machop Chol 5: Chol struggled in the first half to find his rhythm and confidence. He — along with the rest of the team — looked much better in the second half. He didn’t get on the ball much in the game — just 24 touches in his 73 minutes of action — but Chol offers a lot to the team even when he’s not on the ball with his runs and threat to get in behind.
CAM Marcelino Moreno 8 (Man of the Match): Moreno was outstanding, and it’s becoming evident that he plays with much more aggression and freedom when Ezequiel Barco is not in the team. Both players like to play in the same space, but Moreno has a willingness to drive the ball forward that gives the team an added edge. Thanks in part to the way Cincinnati played, Moreno was able to spearhead the attack by picking up the ball in space with runners ahead of him. He had 4 shots, 4 chances created and won 7 fouls on the night (many of which he really was getting desperately hacked down).
RW Jake Mulraney 5: Pretty average game from Mulraney. He did some good things and some not so great. The work rate was tremendous as always and his pace really is helpful for this team. In my opinion, he’s too happy to settle for long shots sometimes instead of making the extra pass to create a better chance. But despite some quibbles, he wasn’t a passneger and was a net contributor to a solid result and performance.
ST Jackson Conway 6: Some may rate him lower because he had two very good scoring opportunities that he didn’t convert. But that’s the life of a striker, and the better way to look at his performance was that he was getting into positions to score. He was getting shots inside the box. Over time, those chances will turn to goals.
SUB Josef Martinez 8: It was a short appearance for Josef, but the impact was so, so noticeable. Once he came on, every Atlanta attack looked threatening. All of a sudden the team was playing tight 1-2 combinations through him. He opened up space and lanes for others. Just his presence was a game-changer and as he gains fitness, his play could change the course of the team’s season.
SUB Matheus Rossetto 6: Rossetto is a man of mystery at this point. I’m not sure if anyone can tell you with 100% confidence what to make of him. To me, he’s a midfield connector who likes to play short, high-percentage passes that keeps the ball moving. He did that job well when coming on for 25 minutes Wednesday.
SUB Erik Lopez NA: Only played 17 minutes but looked threatening. A late sub might be the role Lopez is bet suited to right now, as he can basically play with the shackles off — particularly when the team is searching for a goal.
SUB Mikey Ambrose NA