Atlanta United followed up their rousing performance on opening day with an absolute dud of a result in Colorado on Saturday evening. A depleted squad fell to the Rapids, 3-0, and brought a little dose of realism back into all our lives. Here are a few thoughts a sobering, yet not too unexpected outcome.
Please Be Okay, Ozzie
While the lopsided defeat on the field hurt, the bigger loss came hours beforehand when the club announced that Ozzie Alonso is being withheld from team activities on the advice of a cardiologist. This is a devastating development on many fronts. First and foremost is the health and safety of Ozzie himself. Whenever you’re dealing with cardiologists and they advise you not to play, it’s never anything good. We can only hope at this point that it’s a precautionary measure and Ozzie will be okay soon. From a sporting perspective, this was yet another massive blow to a team already riddled with injuries. After losing Luiz Araujo for around four weeks in the opener, Ozzie’s absence from the midfield was too big of a hole to overcome away from home. The veteran was immense in his debut for the club. Replacing him was always going to be tough and to make matters worse, a inexperienced centerback was the only healthy option available to do it. George Campbell did an admirable job and even had some bright moments in his unusual role, but Alonso’s absence was easily noticeable. Let’s just hope Ozzie can resume playing soon.
Someone Tell Alan Franco It’s July
Remember at the beginning of last season when Alan Franco arrived and was attempting to supplant Anton Walkes in the starting lineup? He looked lost at times and completely off the pace of his teammates. Eventually he figured it out and transformed into a rock at the back for the club. Unfortunately, for some reason, we’re back to square one with Franco, at least as exhibited in his season debut. The Argentine defender was all over the place, making several noticeable and key errors. Perhaps it was rust or him not getting enough minutes in preseason, but he looked a lot like the Alan Franco of early 2021 and that’s not a good thing. We all know what he is capable of producing for the club when he’s at his best. It’s very important that he return to that version of himself and leave whatever this early season version is in the trash bin.
It Is What It Is
By now you should know that I absolutely hate making excuses. But there comes a time when you have to throw your hands up and admit that the odds may be stacked against you. With all the injuries and absences, it’s not too surprising to see a result like this come along. Especially when you consider the weather, spotty field conditions, and whatever other excuses you want to pile on. It’s a long season and the squad is suffering from extreme depletion at the moment. Just like it was silly to declare this team MLS Cup favorites after one game, it’s just as preposterous to declare a national disaster after one bad performance. As a wise person once said: “It is what it is.” All anyone can do is move on, forget about this one, and trying to fix the mistakes.