It was a less than stellar week for Atlanta United’s shrinking playoff hopes as Gonzalo Pineda’s side picked up just one out of a possible six points. A midweek loss to Red Bulls at home followed by a draw away to Columbus was about par for the course as far as results go for the Five Stripes this season. Once again we saw the team performance spread across the spectrum as they looked dire against New York but maybe put in their best effort of the season in Columbus. The need for consistency was always going to be a determining factor in earning a playoff spot. With less than two months of soccer left to play it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to magically appear like we had hoped.
The good news is that the 90 minutes in Columbus produced an epic performance that included the Atlanta players pouring their hearts and souls in their game. The demoralizing thing is, it still wasn’t enough to get their second road victory of the season. So while it may be an encouraging sign for those that don’t care about squeaking into the playoffs this season, if you’re still holding onto that feint hope, it’s not helpful in the slightest. Perhaps that is just the story of this bizarro season. No matter how well or poor the team does, winning just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
One aspect of the most recent match that will have Atlanta fans perking their weary heads up is the individual performance of Santiago Sosa. It’s no secret that the Five Stripes’ midfield has been a huge letdown for quite some time. This was one of the few times Sosa put in a shift where he resembled the midfield lynchpin he was brought in to be. As the club looks toward the future and ponder their roster decisions for next season, the midfield will be under a huge spotlight. These last handful of matches could be make or break for some players in the squad to prove they deserve to be a part of this project moving forward. Sosa is likely one of these players and will need to replicate this showing to show everyone he can be a building block for the future.
[Insert useless complaining about terrible refereeing]
Another positive sign for the future was the substitute performance of the newest roster addition, Edwin Mosquera. The Colombian speedster came off the bench and made a big impact, assisting on Juanjo Purata’s game-tying goal and having a goal taken away due to a dodgy offside decision. Nevertheless, it’s always exciting to see a new player show signs of being a productive member of the roster, especially a young one. Here’s to hoping this is just the beginning of something good for Atlanta’s attacking depth.
Atlanta United host the worst team in MLS on Sunday as the woeful D.C. United come to town. If they can’t find a way to pick up full points in this one, something has gone horribly wrong.