Atlanta United went to Philadelphia and laid a giant egg in what was a very poor performance, earning themselves a 1-0 loss. It was a match that brought back feelings of the Gabriel Heinze era with its lack of overall energy and attacking ideas, a stark contrast to the brilliant form the team has had over the past two months. Here are a couple of phoned in thoughts on a phoned in performance.
- Brad Guzan said it best in his post-match comments: “I don’t know if you can ever put your finger on it when you come out the way we did today. Plain and simple, it wasn’t good enough. We talked about this being a playoff game. We talked about raising the intensity, making sure we had the right mentality. And from the first whistle, we were on the back foot, we were sloppy with the ball, and our work rate wasn’t good enough from start to finish to deserve anything from the game.” — This was a putrid showing from a talented team in an important match. While the quick reflex is to forgive a bad result after the great string of performances over the last chunk of the season since Rob Valentino took over, this one is hard to swallow because of how it happened. The Union were just the far superior side in every facet from the opening whistle. What makes it even tougher to digest is the team had a full week of rest and training to prepare for this important match and came out like they did. If the team had a stressful week with a tough mid-week match it’d be easy to excuse such a poor showing, but they did not and here we are.
- The only player on the field for Atlanta United that deserves recognition for their play is Guzan himself. It’s easy to see why he was peeved after the match as he had one of the best performances of his Five Stripes career with 8 saves, yet it still wasn’t enough to get anything from the match. Credit to Brad for eliminating the silly mistakes and really turning up the level of his individual game over the past handful of matches. His commanding presence has been sorely needed with the team playing a more aggressive style. It’s just unfortunate that he’s the only leader the team seems to have, especially when Josef is unable to play.
- There’s no point in singling out any specific individuals for their poor play as it was really a collective fart in the face of anyone who watched the match. The question now is how will Pineda get this group to rebound from a lifeless and terrible performance. His reign was never going to be flawless and now that there’s an obvious hurdle in the way, how he handles it will show us a lot about his leadership capabilities. The loss takes Atlanta below the playoff line but there’s still plenty of reason to believe they have what it takes to finish as a playoff team. There are eight matches left in the regular season for them to prove it, beginning with a must-win home match against mediocre Inter Miami on Wednesday.