Andrew Gutman seems more and more like a guy that would be fun to go have a beer with (invite is open). He’s given off a humble, yet hard-working vibe from the moment he stepped foot into Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of the 17’s. He’s arguably been the most consistent player for the Five Stripes as injuries are knocking guys out like flies, and he’s found himself very much on the end of some outstanding attacking build-ups over the past couple of weeks.
So, for him to scuff a shot and then head one straight into Alec Kann in stoppage time against FC Cincinnati felt like a continuation of the misfortune Atlanta’s had in actually putting the ball into the back of the net as opposed to just creating a ton of quality chances. But his response after the fact was probably one of the realest, down-to-earth statements I’ve personally heard in quite some time: “...I s*** the bed.”
Kudos to Andrew for taking ownership of the ordeal, though the 0-0 draw does not rest on his shoulders by any means. Moreno took a mediocre penalty kick and Alec Kann had a great save, but I’ll take a quick moment and bring up a point I mentioned in the Twitter Spaces conversation. Marcelino Moreno and Alec Kann have been teammates for the past two years. Kann knows Moreno, has spent hours defending Moreno in training, and yet Moreno was the one to take the PK. Why not bring up the $16 million signing in Thiago Almada to take the kick, who probably doesn’t have the opposing goalkeeper on his Christmas card list?
That’s not to mention the many other missed chances throughout the match. But Gutman stepped forward and took his miss like a man, and that deserves applause. That indicates a desire to be better, to take his game to the next level. Everyone misses, everyone scuffs, and everyone fluffs, even the Messi’s and Ronaldo’s of the world. But it’s a huge indicator of the mindset of Andrew to want to produce a better all around talent. The man is already one of the best defensive players on the pitch, so if he can take his offensive game to the next level, he’ll be absurdly dangerous on the left wing.
Granted, this is an article about the post-match quotes and everything Gonzalo Pineda, Andrew Gutman, and Miles Robinson said after the draw, but Gutman’s “realness” truly stood out here, in a positive way.
Be a goldfish, Andrew.
Beyond that, though, here’s hoping this was not the last time we see Brad Guzan on the pitch, much less in an Atlanta United kit, but if the body language and then the post-match conference gives any ideas, the prognosis doesn’t look great for the Polar Bear. That’ll be an interesting topic throughout the week in terms of who steps up from here on out. Obviously Bobby Shuttleworth likely gets the starts, and with Dylan Castanheira’s own Achilles injury that leaves Vicente Reyes and Justin Garces (who I admittedly accidentally left out of the Twitter Spaces conversation, my bad). There have been some quick rumors coming out about yet another striker (again, rumors) that Atlanta United is contemplating, but it could be argued that more depth at goal keeper is a priority at this point. Bobby Shuttleworth is more than capable but it’s not yet clear if he can provide the same veteran presence Brad could, and that’s sketchy for an Atlanta side who doesn’t have much tenured presence with Ozzie Alonso also out.
Needless to say, the post-match press conference was a bit somber. The draw felt like a loss and the injury to Guzan was the cherry on top. Take a gander at what all was said after the match and we’d love to hear your thoughts below.
Atlanta United Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda:
On his thoughts on the match today:
“I think we played a good game in the attack. The way we built out from the back, most of the times we were able to unbalance the opponent. We did that many times. I think the expected goals statistic in a reflection of what happened on the field (3.35 xG for ATL – 0.9 xG for CIN). But we didn’t score the goals, that’s what matters. That’s why we didn’t win. But I’m proud of the effort and how my players understood the tactics. We created a lot of chances and tried to push for a win until the end.”
On Brad Guzan’s injury:
“I don’t want to talk about the details about the injury, but it doesn’t look good. That’s why I’m sad, it’s not about the result or the performance, it’s about Brad’s injury. I have to wait for the scans and tests that they are going to do. No, it was not a knee injury, it was an achilles injury.”
On how to fix the attack, not scoring a goal in back-to-back matches:
“First of all, I think it’s a matter of probabilities. We created today 3.35 expected goals to 0.9, I think most of the time we are going to win. If we continue to consistently create more and better chances like we did today, most of the time we will score goals. We missed a PK, we missed some other good chances inside the six, I don’t think that will happen very often. I believe in the quality we have in the final third. Players coming back from injury give you more options, you saw today Luiz (Araujo) and Emerson (Hyndman) were very good. The way we created chances in our Primary Assists Zones was very high, and obviously players with the quality of Luiz they will impact the score line. I won’t judge as much today Luiz’s performance since he’s only been back in training for one week. I just want him to be back and continues to train and improve, that’s natural.”
On his adjustments in the second half:
“It wasn’t anything tactical, I thought our tactics were ok. We were unbalancing them very well in midfield, creating a lot of chances from the flanks, a few from the center. We just talked about patience and trying to have more composure in the final third. We created the better chances in the second half, but again we didn’t score and that’s the story of the game.”
On Caleb Wiley’s first start tonight:
“He was great tonight. He impacted the game exactly as I designed. He did everything I asked him to do. I think he was good in the final third, his crosses and also having a hand in creating the penalty kick. I think he’s someone with a very bright future. At the end of the game, I just wanted someone with some fresher legs and try something different, but Caleb was terrific.”
On if he’s happy with the type of chances Atlanta created:
“Yes, it can be better, but today there were almost four clear chances inside the six. So, I’m happy with that but it’s something we have to continue to progress. Many times you saw Brooks Lennon or Caleb Wiley crossing in the first half, and they didn’t connect with someone. I need that to be a connection. I need them to find someone in the box, either with a cut back or a cross to the far post. We need to connect those crosses. A lot of that is composure and quality on the ball, understand who’s available, how many numbers you have inside the box and see the runs. There a lot of things, and one thing we haven’t had is a lot of time to work with all the different parts. Ronaldo Cisneros just arrived a couple weeks ago, Thiago Almada is now integrated fully, Luiz Araujo is now back. Now we are trying to put everything together. Honestly though, if Brad’s injury didn’t happen, I would have been very happy with the performance of the team tonight. My mood would be completely different, because I believe today we played one of our best games in the season so far, we just couldn’t finish.”
On how the coach can help the team with the attack:
“I believe that this is a natural process and it happens in soccer physically in a lot of games, in this league, in other leagues, and in Europe. A team dominates; sometimes you don’t score the goal, it happens. Sometimes you concede a goal in a transition and the game complicates itself. We have seen it several times. It is nothing scary. What do I have to do? First thing, I have to assure myself that the team continues to generate chances. That we will always generate above 2 to 3 expected goals, which is a statistic that I really like, and it will allow us to gain more volume for opportunities to get ahead. Evidently, we need to continue working on finishing, we have to include a special emphasis on the side but what takes us to the end is the form. We cannot allow think so much about the end if the form is not strong. If so, it gets unbalanced. We have to make sure that we maintain it and obviously improve on a couple chances in the final third.”
On Caleb Wiley’s performance tonight:
“I don’t think that it is something that I taught him or that he learned. I think that it is something that he has within him and it is why I put him in because I know what he can give me in the last quarter with his velocity. Evidently that is how players gain opportunities. When we put them on the field they need to produce. I have put him in a couple times. The first time he put in a goal. The second time was in Colorado and that was not an easy game. Last time was the last game, which was 8 days ago, in Charlotte, he was spectacular. He almost scored a goal at the end of the game. Today he had a penalty and lots of occasions where it was dangerous with the opposite team. He has a great work ethic. He knows how to defend very well and has a great physique. Obviously, this is how you win great opportunities and can play at any moment.”
On Brad Guzan’s injury:
“As I said, it does not look very good but we are going to wait and see what the doctors say.”
Atlanta United defender Andrew Gutman
On his thoughts on the team’s performance
“I thought it was a dominating performance. We were keeping the pressure on all game. They didn’t really have too many chances. We had a lot of chances just that final ball, final touch wasn’t there tonight. But it’s a long season and it’s encouraging signs to see how we were able to move a team around and create pockets of space and chances and we just have to be a little sharper to create that final pass to score the goal.”
On if there was an emphasis tonight to play faster
“Yes, of course. I think when we move the ball fast and find Thiago and Marcelino, when Luiz came in, those special players in those pockets in between the backline and the midfield that can really cause chaos for them and we tried to exploit those and you saw that in the first half we did that successfully and we were creating a lot of chances.”
On his chance in stoppage time
“Luiz played a great cross in and I just kind of s*** the bed. For me, it’s really hard for me to take. I thought that I could score the goal and we win 1-0 but for me I almost feel like the result is on my shoulders so I just have to keep my head down, keep working, and next opportunity score the goal.”
On Brad Guzan’s injury and what it means if he is out
“It’s huge. Brad is our captain, our leader, our heartbeat. It didn’t look good on the field obviously, we don’t know what the scans will be. But it’s a huge loss for us. He’s such a fantastic player, fantastic guy but we just have to support him throughout this whole process. He’s had such a great career and it can’t end like this and we just have to keep pushing him through and come back even stronger.”
On Caleb Wiley
“The kid is 17 years old and tearing up defenses in MLS. It’s crazy to see. When I first came to Atlanta, there was a lot of hype around him but I didn’t know who he was, and all through training you can just see that this kid is special and he’s got something different that a lot of people don’t have and tonight he played with a lot of confidence and I thought he did terrific. He created the handball in the box for the penalty and he was just causing chaos down that side the whole 60 or 70 minutes he played.”
Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson:
On Brad Guzan’s injury:
“Its definitely devastating. He means so much to this team. He is a true leader. His energy is contagious. Obviously, he’s a veteran. He’s played in Europe before and all that, so you know nothing but praise for him. So, it’s definitely tough for us. Especially me, you know, he’s been a leader in my career so far. So definitely tough to take in, but it’s something you got to process with time.”
On the performance and what they need to improve on:
“There’s definitely chances to win the game but sometimes it’s just not our night and that’s just what happened. It’s just soccer, you just have to you know continue to move forward and shake it off because there’s definitely opportunities for us to win. There’s definitely some good things in the game as a whole but yeah I think for me personally, just the injury of Brad hurts for sure.”
On Caleb Wiley, how has he grown:
“Yeah, I mean, I used to send him back when he’s playing, you know, for the Academy. He would just be around the training ground. Everyone was always kind hyping him up then but yeah, he played great today. He’s a great player, great young player. He has got a great head on his shoulders. So yeah, I’ve got nothing but praise for him for sure.”
On if there weren’t any injuries:
“When there’s no injuries on our team, we’re a very scary roster. But we just gotta you know, hopefully stay fit you know, recover get the guys who are fit you know back and when we’re when we’re fully fit, we’re definitely a scary team to face.”
On Bobby and Brad:
“Yeah, I mean, at this point you’re just used to having Brad back there you know, he’s always been he’s always been back there. Every game pretty much I played for Atlanta United, so you just get used to him, you understand what he wants, and he demands the very most at all times which is essential for a keeper but yeah, obviously Bobby is also a veteran he knows the league very well he’s you know a great goalkeeper so yeah.”
A good conversation about the match with @ATLPilgrim @LetsGoDucks96 and joined by plenty of others included @cincysoccertalk Give it a listen as we talk about Atlanta’s scoring woes, US Open Cup , Guzan’s injury and plenty more. https://t.co/IcHbWYOxhd— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) April 17, 2022
If you get some time and want a good listen and match recap with some chat about what the future may hold, give our Spaces a listen. We had some good conversation talking about this game and what could happen going forward to the U.S. Open Cup against Chattanooga. As usual, can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts below, so feel free to dive in.