Atlanta United’s winless skid hit 11 games on Friday night as rivals Orlando City overcame two deficits to win 3-2 at home. The Five Stripes finally managed to put the ball in the net, spectacularly in fact. Unfortunately the two wondergoals from Josef Martinez and Marcelino Moreno weren’t enough to get anything out of the match. Here are a few thoughts on another poor result.
- First and foremost it’s incredibly exhilarating to see Josef Martinez scoring bangers once again. While it was a long time for fans to go without seeing their hero, I’m sure it was even longer for him to go without the sport he loves. To have him back on the field and pulling off moments of magic is why we’re all here. We can only hope this is the start of the many more moments to come this season and beyond.
- It was another bright performance from Marcelino Moreno who continues to trend towards the player the club thought he could be. His goal was taken sensationally and he was the main influence driving the attack forward once again. It’s up to him to maintain this level of play once better players are put around him in the attack, hopefully soon.
- Now on to the negative. Despite the two great goals, this was not a good attacking performance by any means. The two goals coming from incredible individual efforts and low percentage shots doesn’t seem great when thinking about replicable actions in the future. Having to rely on a piece of magic to always score a goal isn’t not a recipe for success in this sport. We’re going to need to start seeing some actual good build-up play and goals resulting from that play if we’re going to get overly optimistic about the attack.
Here's a fun factoid. #ATLUTD had six shots tonight and according to Opta their two goals were the two lowest xG chances of the six taken.— Rob Usry (@RobUsry) July 31, 2021
- The fact that the team didn’t push numbers forward with reckless abandon like they did against Cincinnati and Columbus and still managed to get shredded defensively almost all night is not a positive sign either. The mantra around these parts lately has been we want fun soccer no matter how many goals you concede. However, when there’s not much danger being put on the opposing goal and you’re still getting bombarded with chances against something isn’t right. It’s clear that Atlanta’s left side was a gaping hole defensively as Orlando walked through both Erik Lopez and Mikey Ambrose with ease in the first half. Losing Brooks Lennon early in the second half didn’t help matters and the back line never recovered. Obviously these defensive issues could be helped tremendously when Miles Robinson and George Bello return. But, there is cause for concern if there’s not the corresponding attacking influence in exchange for defensive lapses.
- In closing, this is another in a long line of bad results. However, I still feel a sense of optimism for this season. Perhaps it’s misguided and/or wishful thinking, but it really feels like this team still has a chance at rebounding once they get their important players back from international duty. There’s also the matter of the transfer window and the potential for adding a player or two to help the attacking issues. Oh and also the manager search is still a thing to consider. All I’m saying is that it seems premature to declare 2021 a lost season just yet. Are they going to contend for the Supporters’ Shield? No. But can they turn this season around if certain factors change for the better? I, maybe foolishly, still believe they can.