Atlanta United fought a pretty swell match to a 4-2, pardon, 2-2 draw Sunday evening against the Columbus Crew. The inevitable weather delay pushed the match back an hour, and the Five Stripes came out swinging with intensity that has been sorely missed at times throughout the season.
Santiago Sosa scored a brace, pardon once again, he scored a goal and then had a second goal called back for…something. Perhaps PRO will enlighten everyone as to why Sosa’s second goal didn’t count, but don’t bet on it; they tend to have a bit of a monopoly on North American reffing. Sosa’s counted goal was a thing of beauty, however, as he drilled a shot into to top right corner that left Columbus’ defense stunned.
The second goal was a header in which Sosa admittedly beat everyone, but apparently there was some amount of contact that constituted a shove and that was enough to keep the goal off the score sheet. The Five Stripes’ luck continued to go sour in the second half as Cucho Hernandez bagged a brace (those counted). Edwin Mosquera, who seems to be impervious to any amount of collective frustration by the rest of the team, continued to chip away at the defense. He found himself on the end of a wonderful ball and beat the goalkeeper 1v1, but alas, PRO couldn’t allow such nonsense and decided that his…something…was offside.
Fortunately, the aforementioned Mosquera took that personally and decided to whip in a corner that Juanjo Purata was able to reach for, and he headed the ball in for the equalizer/coughfourthgoalcough. The match continued on across the soaked pitch but neither team could find the actual go ahead goal.
Unfortunately, the result doesn’t do much to help Atlanta United’s playoff chances, but it does reinforce the theme that the Five Stripes just can’t catch any breaks this season. However, in the spirit of improving MLS as a whole, it needs to be mentioned that PRO simply has to be more consistent; not better, just more consistent. Call a soft game or call a physical one; the players don’t care nor do the fans. But be consistent, and have some actual recourse for mistakes. More power to anyone who wants to be a referee because it is indeed a thankless job, but not one that should be immune to legitimate criticism.
Barring the reffing decisions, Atlanta United’s fate is entirely in their hands. Whether they make the playoffs or not, and then whatever happens there, is largely dependent on what version of the team decides to show up for these next eight matches. The fight and spirit is flashing, but we’ll see if it’s too little too late.
Check out what Gonzalo Pineda, Santiago Sosa, and Amar Sejdic had to say (and not say) after the match, and be sure to comment below.
Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda
On if he thinks this was the best game the team has played with the most frustrating result
“Well, the direct answer is no. I think we played so many good games so far and we haven’t achieved the results. I remember Miami away, Cincinnati at home, Cincinnati away, Montreal away. I felt that we’ve been doing a lot of good games but the final result, we haven’t achieved. But honestly, it was inspiring the way the team played. Soccer wise, but also on the mental side I thought that they showed a lot of passion, they showed a lot of good attitude, energy, intensity against a very good team. They are a very good team, very good coach and today I felt we were superior to a very good team, which is encouraging, so the message is let’s continue with these type of performances and I think after these eight games we’re going to get the reward.”
On if the referee explained the decision to not allow Santiago Sosa’s goal
“Well, my hands are tied there, Doug. I’m sorry. By the rules of the league, I can’t speak about the guys making the calls and fouls. I don’t think I can even say the name of their profession. But you guys write about it, I mean you guys watch the film and please write about it, analyze it the same way you analyze coaches, players, and dissect every play. Analyze and criticize some of these guys we can’t talk publicly about because our hands are tied and it’s frustrating but the first thing that comes to mind is the goal they scored at home, on a set piece, minimum contacts and it’s the same play. But as I said a few games ago, referees are always right and we coaches are always wrong.”
On the Sosa and Sejdic pairing and how it helped Sosa to get forward and put shots on target in the first half
“Yes, to be honest that wasn’t the plan, that Sosa was that high but it’s what I love about my players, and especially Santi, their energy, they see the game and adjust. Sometimes we plan something on the game and they see and adjust to that and Sosa saw that there was a lot of space ahead of him and Amar did a very good job of complementing Sosa’s qualities. I felt the midfield was very good. I think when Ibarra came in, it also was a very good pair, so now that we don’t have Rossetto we have to adjust a little bit but I was pleased with the way that both Santi and Amar played and obviously, also Ibarra.”
On how he would describe Columbus’ two goals
“The first one I think is a great goal. We have to give them credit. It’s a great play, they unbalance us on our left side. We have to do better at covering those gaps and also at covering those crosses. I felt that the second one was more on us. Individual defending, defending inside the box. Also, you have to give credit to a guy like Cucho. I think he was very good and he did a fantastic play at the end of the day. Overall, they scored two very good goals, we scored three very good goals, maybe four, but in general the team was very good.”
Atlanta United midfielder Amar Sejdic
On if this was one of the better performances this season with a frustrating result
“I think in terms of tactically we had a good understanding of what our roles and responsibilities were individually and collectively and I think that we were able to execute it well in terms of what the coaching staff wanted. We created a lot of chances. I think it’s a little frustrating, like many times during the season, we kind of lose two points but nonetheless the effort was great, what we achieved on the field was great. We have eight more games to go and we have to be optimistic.”
On playing with Santiago Sosa in the midfield and allowing him to get forward
“My idea in the midfield is always to kind of have an understanding of where the players are around me so depending on what space him and Thiago occupy, I would try to counterbalance that to give us balance and be able to pick up loose balls and then distribute the ball in the run of play and connect passes and he ended up getting opportunities to shoot and he scored a golazo. But overall, it was a great team effort.”
On if he got an explanation from the referee about the two disallowed goals
“I asked him on the corner kick play and he said there was a shove. I don’t know who on. He just said there was a shove in the box. I didn’t get to watch it back yet. I don’t know what you guys saw, but from what I heard in the locker room they said it should have been a goal, wasn’t a shove at all, so I don’t know.”
On Atlanta being five points behind Columbus with eight games remaining and how tough making the playoffs will be
“It’s going to be tough, no doubt. But I think this is a moment for the team to adapt to the adversity that we’ve been dealing with all season long, and losing points when we should have won, and in terms of when we did win points when maybe we shouldn’t have. I think using this adversity, it builds character and I think this is a great time for people to show up and really give everything they’ve got in the last eight games and come together as a team and make a run.”
Atlanta United midfielder Santiago Sosa
On scoring his first MLS goal and how confident he was when he hit it
“Yes, first I’m very happy to score my first goal in MLS. I scored one in Concacaf Champions League last year but obviously I’m happy personally but sad as a group because we tied a game that we didn’t deserve to.”
On talking with the referee and if he explained why he disallowed the goal
“No, he didn’t give me a reason for why he had disallowed the second goal. Simply I told him that I didn’t push off but supported myself so as not to crash heads with him.”
On taking five shot on goal in the first half, six in the game, and how he was able to get involved in the offense, especially on set pieces
“Maybe playing with a backline of five gives me more freedom to go attack. And I think that’s what happened, I felt comfortable playing close to the goal. I think I won most of the headers in the first half, I couldn’t finish them with a goal but I had various opportunities as you said.”
On playing with Sejdic in the midfield
“I think I feel comfortable playing with Amar because we have different characteristics. I think we did a great game because he has the role and characteristics to be a little more free than I am. I think we complement each other well because we mix the attack and defending and we did it very well in the first half.”