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Atlanta United fires blanks in draw with FC Cincinnati

Atlanta United maintained the majority of possession but failed to fire on all cylinders in the final third.

SOCCER: APR 16 MLS - FC Cincinnati at Atlanta United Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Atlanta United and FC Cincinnati played to a scoreless draw on Saturday despite both teams creating a handful of chances that probably would have been finished on another day. It’s an unfortunate result for Atlanta United, who dominated possession and grew into the game during the second half, but a lack of clinical shooting cost the Five Stripes the three points against the three time wooden spoon winners.

Atlanta’s record now sits at 3-2-2 and remains in fourth place in the Eastern Conference at the time of writing. Cincinnati is 2-4-1 and remains in 12th in the East.

With so many injuries plaguing Atlanta United right now, the starting lineup is always going to be a point of interest. Alan Franco is currently day to day with an ankle injury and missed out on the match day squad all together. Meanwhile, Caleb Wiley and Ronaldo Cisneros both made their first starts for the Five Stripes while Luiz Araújo and Emerson Hyndman started on the bench after missing time due to injury. Araújo and Hyndman both came on as substitutes in the 74th minute.

Atlanta United had a few chances to get on the score sheet throughout the match, but the most obvious chance was a penalty Wiley earned after skinning two defenders and crossing the ball, which hit a defender’s hand. Marcelino Moreno took the penalty, but former Atlanta United goalkeeper Alec Kann kept it even with a good save.

There were plenty of chances that the Five Stripes could have (and probably should have) put away. Thiago Almada had two chances that come to mind, and Andrew Gutman flubbed his shot in stoppage time to win the game.

“Luiz [Araújo] played a great ball in and you know, I kind of shit the bed,” Gutman said.. “For me, it’s really hard for me to take. I thought I could score the goal and we could win 1-0, and for me I feel like the results on my shoulders.”

Atlanta United struggled to create much during the first half despite dominating possession. Here are those numbers:

And here are those same stats after the full time whistle:

Just by looking at those numbers, you can tell that Atlanta United turned the game around in terms of using the ball to actually create chances.

Pineda on the discussion with his team at halftime:

“It wasn’t any tactical. I think tactics were okay. I think we were just unbalancing very very well the midfield and creating a lot of chances from the flanks, a few from the midfield. We talked about patience and try to have a bit more composure on the ball and a better understanding of the final third. I think we created the best chances in the second half, but again, we didn’t score and that’s the story of the game.”

In a season that has already seen Atlanta United deal with a multitude of high profile injuries, Pineda has another injury headache he’s going to have to deal with. Around the 70th minute, Brad Guzan went down off the ball and immediately waved for the medical staff. Guzan had to be carried off the field on a stretcher and was replaced by Bobby Shuttleworth.

Pineda spoke with a solemn tone about Guzan’s injury in the post match press conference and revealed the goalkeeper suffered an achilles injury. Gutman and Miles both gave their opinion on the situation, and heaped a lot of praise onto the goalkeeper.

“At this point, you’re just used to having Brad back there,” Miles said. “ You know, he’s always been he’s always been back there pretty much every game I’ve played for Atlanta United, so you just get used to him, you understand what he wants and you know what he wants and he demands at all times which is essential for keeper.”

The extra element here that isn’t a factor in the other injuries the team is dealing with is the leadership aspect (apart from Josef’s and Ozzie Alonso’s injuries). Bobby Shuttleworth is the next man up in between the sticks for the Five Stripes.

Atlanta United returns to U.S. Open Cup action on Wednesday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium where the Five Stripes will host NISA side Chattanooga FC. Kick off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m ET.