Not much went to plan for Atlanta United in the first half of their 2-0 loss to L.A. Galaxy, and a moderately better second half couldn’t salvage the overall match. Gonzalo Pineda went with an unchanged starting XI in favor of consistency as opposed to fielding Josef Martinez and Thiago Almada, and the squad simply came out flat.
L.A. made Atlanta pay early when Chicharito found himself wide open in the box and drilled Rocco Rios Novo from eight yards out. The rebound was tapped in, and from that moment the Five Stripes were chasing the game. Pineda made similar substitutions to the ones he made against Orlando, albeit earlier, but a breakthrough goal never happened. Josef and Almada injected a bit of energy in the second half but the Galaxy seemed content to weather the storm and try and hit on the counter, which is exactly what happened as they scored their second in the dying moments of the match.
Gonzalo Pineda admittedly had some tough questions to answer in regards to the lineup choices, but what’s similarly concerning was the team’s lack of spirit in the first half. Pineda mentioned that the formation Galaxy employed wasn’t what the team expected, but unfortunately the counter to that didn’t come until the half.
It seems improper to beat a dead horse, so just check out what Pineda and Matheus Rossetto said about the match below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda
On if old issues with the team resurfaced and why he didn’t start Thiago Almada:
“I feel like it was a little bit different. I felt that the change that LA Galaxy did in their shape with a 4-3-3 was perhaps a big factor. They’ve been playing 4-4-2 most of the games. The last part of Colorado’s game, they play a 4-3-3 but we’re expecting more the 4-4-2. I felt that the first half, we couldn’t really control the game in the way we wanted. The second half was much better. We were pushing, we were trying to get into those areas and I felt that we weren’t locked in, in the final third. Why no Thiago? I have to make choices. I have to make choices with the back five that we were playing, we were looking for solidifying the back five and that means I have three spots up front. I decided for Luiz [Araujo], Marcelino [Moreno] and Ronaldo [Cisneros] but we will try to check the film and try to see if we could have done better. I think yes, individually, that Thiago was very good tonight. I will check if tactically if that could have helped us also in that moment.”
On the team’s conservative nature in the first half:
“That wasn’t actually the plan. We were not trying to do that, it’s just, again, the tactical shape change that they did with the 4-3-3, we weren’t having a lot of control because they have an extra midfielder, basically. We were busy with the three midfielders they had and one center mid, Ronaldo had to drop a little bit more. We were just waiting for that visual cue to just press with our wing backs and our wingers at the same time but we were not correct on that. It was just trying to set a line of confrontation, middle block, tough to beat and from there, start our pressing but we were never able to do that. What you saw in the first half, it wasn’t the plan. It was, I would say, credit to LA and the good tactics they put. I felt that in the second half, we corrected that and that was really what we wanted to do from the very beginning.”
On if the team can play the way they did in the second half for 90 minutes:
“Well, I think we’ve been consistently doing that. Orlando was a game that we controlled for the 90 minutes almost. The second half, we put a bit more pressure with two forwards but we were in control of the full game. New York City was more of an even game but I felt we were also creating a lot of chances against New York City. Then New York Red Bulls, I felt we for 80 minutes we were the better team on the field. Toronto was, again, similar game. More even but we were more in control in Toronto so I disagree that we are playing just 45 minutes okay. I feel like the whole game, or most of the games, we’ve been in control of the game and trying to attack. That attacking-minded football, you can see it in how many chances we create in every game, home or away. We’re creating a lot of chances, it’s just we’re not as clinical as we should have. But we will continue in trying to create more chances than the opponent.”
Atlanta United midfielder Matheus Rossetto:
On how this team can get off to better starts in games:
“It’s tough to say. They scored an early goal and that proved to be difficult for us. We’re coming here playing at LA Galaxy on the road, they are a good team. But I think in the second half, we started better and were able to get control of the game. That’s how we need to start. Try to have that same mentality and play the way we want to play from the beginning. We’re all working together to try and do that. So, we have to take this as a learning experience and try and get better.”
On why it was difficult to control the midfield in first half and missing Thiago Almada in that half:
“In the first half it was difficult for us. We tried to press at times, but they always seemed to have a free man. We were struggling with that. We talked with Gonzalo (Pineda) about that and maybe changing the formation. In terms of Thiago (Almada), he’s a great player. He’s a very important player for us. When he came on in the second half, along with Josef (Martinez) and Marcelino (Moreno) and the guys in our attack. We had more power offensively. We have a lot of competition. Gonzalo can’t choose to play everyone from the start, so everyone is competing for places. Of course, Thiago is a great player and hopefully we can all play on the field together in the next game.”