Well, Atlanta United went and did it. Heinze and his squad lost 3-0 to the last placed team in the Eastern Conference.
The Chicago Fire isn’t the basement dweller of the Eastern Conference anymore. The result moves the Fire into 12th place with eight points while Atlanta remains in 10th place with 12 points.
Atlanta United fans knew Saturday night’s lineup would feature some depth players. The team traveled to Chicago without Josef Martinez, Santiago Sosa, Franco Ibarra, Emerson Hyndman, Alan Franco, and Matheus Rossetto for various injury-related reasons. Those absences led to Mo Adams and Tyler Wolff earning their first starts of the season. Mikey Ambrose and Machop Cool also came on as substitutes for their first minutes of the season.
#ATLUTD Starting XI vs @ChicagoFire pic.twitter.com/UsQi9ZLiq3— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) July 3, 2021
That left Ezequiel Barco, Cubo Torres, and Jake Mulraney to lead Atlanta United from the front, which isn’t prospect that strikes fear in any given opponent.
The Five Stripes had to make do with the players at their disposal, but it wasn’t very different from what we’ve seen most of the season. Atlanta United created 12 shots, with only two of those on target. Chicago put up 14 shots and only put four on target (which I guess isn’t that much of a difference, but look at the scoreline). Blah.
Chicago, a team that entered the game at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, went 1-0 up on Atlanta in the 34th minute. Álvaro Medrán picked up the ball, sped past Mo Adams, and found Ignacio Aliseda near the top of Atlanta’s penalty area to score. The shot took a nasty deflection off Adams and flew past Brad Guzan.
Aliseda finishes what Medran started!#CFFC up 1-0. #CHIvATL pic.twitter.com/MbVbJjrgS8— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 4, 2021
Aliseda and the Fire then followed up with another goal in the 45’+6’, capitalizing on a poor giveaway from Anton Walkes and curling the ball past Guzan right at the end of the first half.
NACHO'S HAVIN' A NIGHT pic.twitter.com/Wu2mhu0oPW— Chicago Fire FC (@ChicagoFire) July 4, 2021
Przemysław Frankowski put the game to bed in the 58th minute after the Fire cut Atlanta United open through the middle of the field.
FRANKIE MAKES IT THREE pic.twitter.com/wQozoUZx6u— Chicago Fire FC (@ChicagoFire) July 4, 2021
Marcelino Moreno had the chance to get a consolation goal for Atlanta in second half stoppage time, but he excruciatingly hit the top of the crossbar from 12 yards out.
And that was that. Atlanta United has now gone six matches without a win.
I asked Gabriel Heinze if he'll change his tactics to find solutions:— Felipe Cárdenas (@FelipeCar) July 4, 2021
"I'm not going to change anything. I'm going to fix what we're doing badly, insist on what we're doing well. I'm very sad about (1 win in 7 games). But I'm not going to alter my path." pic.twitter.com/An7RYAZjpK
This is... interesting and we will see how it plays out over the course of the season.
The team plays Nashville next Thursday, but Atlanta will be without another three key players. USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter called Brad Guzan, Miles Robinson, and George Bello (Bello picked up an apparent injury and was forced off in the 85th minute, so expect an update on his availability) up to national team duty for the Gold Cup.
Barco will also join up with Argentina’s Olympic squad. Depending on the injured players’ time tables, Atlanta could be without 10 first team players for the Nashville match.
Atlanta United returns to action at Nissan Stadium next Thursday to face off against Nashville SC. Perhaps more importantly, the transfer window opens on July 7th.