Atlanta United exhibited almost all of their flaws en route to losing their 13-match home unbeaten streak against Columbus Crew on Saturday night. The Five Stripes conceded in the opening 90 seconds of the match and trailed for over 100 minutes of soccer in the 2-1 loss. Here are a few thoughts on yet another frustrating match to watch from an Atlanta perspective.
Show and Tell
This match truly felt like your kindergarten teacher telling you to bring every bad thing in your life with you to class to tell your story. Atlanta United showed exactly why they are currently 10th place in the Eastern conference in the loss. From the opening whistle the poor mistakes and horrifying set piece defense reared its head immediately putting the home side in a hole. Despite creating some chances, most through the right side via Luiz Araujo, Atlanta never really looked favorites to get the next goal before the halftime whistle. In fact, they found themselves 2-0 down right before the break after Erik Hurtado took Alex DeJohn to the cleaners on a 1-v-1 duel. Yet another flaw held up for the world to see, a questionable back line missing one of the best centerbacks in MLS. While credit should be given to Eloy Room for making some nice stops, none of the chances created could really be considered extremely threatening.
Despite a change in formation and the return of Josef Martinez, the team didn’t start looking dangerous until the final 10 minutes of regulation time when they began throwing everything at the Columbus goal.
You should know by now that I don’t do moral victories. Yes, the team showed great heart pushing for the late goals and almost got them. It is commendable that they didn’t give up until the final whistle blew. However, that shouldn’t erase the previous 80 minutes of poor play that dug them into the hole in which they needed to escape. I could do without the whole gritty, heartfelt comeback attempt in exchange for them not making inexcusable mistakes on a consistent basis. Obviously I’d much rather see them fighting tooth and nail for an equalizer rather than giving up, but it shouldn’t have to come to that so often.
Awaiting a Lifeboat
With a three-week international break now upon us this is a great time for the team to take stock of where its at and what needs to be done to salvage the season. If there are going to be any major shakeups made, either personnel or strategic-wise, it seems like now would be a good time to implement them. The transfer window won’t open for another six weeks but you can bet the front office will be hard at work identifying targets to help get the team back above water. Not to sound like a broken record, but the nice thing about parity, is that death is rarely imminent. They have plenty of time to make changes and right the ship. It’s obviously frustrating to watch in its current state, but fortunes in MLS can change in a hurry and hopefully they do.