Atlanta United broke out of their funk in a big way on Saturday by blasting the Chicago Fire, 4-1, in a convincing home win. Unfortunately, the fantastic result was once again marred by a potentially season-changing injury. MLS Best XI and United States international Miles Robinson was stretchered off the field after 15 minutes with what appeared to be a leg injury. Despite the sour note, there were finally some positive notes to take away from a Five Stripes win, so let’s take a look at those.
Direct and Quick
One big difference between this match and the previous ones seemed to be the urgency and directness with which the team played with. Instead of being content with winning possession and stroking the ball around the field, they immediately looked in behind for a pass as soon as the ball was recovered. The preciseness of play in quick build up for the opening goal was a direct result of not letting Chicago’s backline get settled in. Their disorganization and confusion enabled Ronaldo Cisneros to find a gap and beat the offside line after a brilliant pass from Luiz Araujo.
It’s these types of sequences we just haven’t seen much of from this team. While they have been creating chances, many of them have been low quality against a set defense. The urgent mindset really paid dividends all night against a backline struggling to keep up.
With no news on Josef Martinez’s recovery and the transfer window shut until the summer, it appears to be Cisnero’s offensive ship to guide. His break out moment in MLS couldn’t have come at a better time for the Five Stripes who were desperate for a focal point to emerge. A first half hat trick was one hell of a way to prove yourself to the fans and front office that you belong on the field. In the Mexican striker’s defense, service in towards him has been lacking since his arrival in Atlanta. This match really showed that he’s capable of being an offensive threat if his fellow attackers are all on the same page and putting him into dangerous areas.
It remains to be seen if Cisneros is a sort-term or long-term solution to the hole at striker, but for now he can take the job and run with it if he continues to make this type of impact.
An Injury List A Mile(s) Long
Losing Miles Robinson for any length of time is going to be a huge blow to any team he plays for. As of writing, the extent of the centerback’s leg injury is not known. However, being stretchered off the field is never a good sign. If Miles has to miss an extended period of time, Atlanta are in quite a pickle. Alex De John did an admirable job filling in against Chicago, but he’s not exactly the player you want starting on a regular basis. George Campbell, who is also currently sidelined with an injury, has struggled himself when on the field. No matter how they go about replacing Miles in the lineup, there’s going to be a noticeable downgrade in quality. They just have to hope the diagnosis is positive and if not, another potential item immediately goes on the summer transfer to-do list.