It’s never fun to see a win streak come to an end, but to see a team go from dominant to dormant in the span of a week just hurts.
A sixth versus seventh place matchup in the Eastern Conference promised some more fireworks from two sides fighting to keep their spots ahead of the dreaded Red Line, but from the onset the match at Subaru Park seemed very one sided. Josef Martinez was kept from travelling out of precaution due to a slight knee injury, but the Five Stripes still had the necessary firepower in Barco, Moreno, and Araujo, as we saw two weeks ago against Orlando. Still, the attack struggled to create much of anything, amassing only 0.2 xG throughout the entire match.
Philadelphia took control of the game shortly after it began, keeping extensive spells of possession in Atlanta’s defensive third and forcing numerous turnovers with their high pressing forwards. Things could have gotten real ugly real fast if not for the interventions of Brad Guzan, such as on this Union set piece:
The second half started off somewhat better, with Marcelino Moreno forcing a save out of Andre Blake with a rocket of a strike from distance seven minutes after the restart. However, that wouldn’t slow the Philly attack, and Brad Guzan had to come up big once more in the 62nd minute. Guz totaled eight stops throughout the match, a lone bright spot in an otherwise dull game.
Guz with another big time stop pic.twitter.com/JvGX1Z4IVi— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) September 25, 2021
Gonzalo Pineda made his first changes in the 69th minute, bringing on Jackson Conway and Jake Mulraney in exchange for Marcelino Moreno and George Bello. Just minutes later, Philadelphia forward Jose Martinez dribbled through both Conway and Mulraney en route to the endline, where he played a cross to Kasper Przybylko at the top of the six yard box for a swift first time finish to give the Union the lead.
Atlanta made two more changes, bringing on Tyler Wolff in the 79th and Machop Chol a minute into stoppage, but the Five Stripes couldn’t come up with an answer. Philly held strong to close out the match, and sent United back to Georgia empty handed.
Now sitting in the seventh and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Atlanta United returns to the Benz on Wednesday to play Inter Miami as they attempt to get back to the high flying form from a week ago and continue to search for postseason security.