One of the prominent themes of the night on our post-match Twitter Spaces show was chemistry, something Atlanta United is struggling mightily with this season. One of the prominent themes of the Five Stripes’ entire season, however, is luck, which Andrew Gutman mentioned in the press conference after the team fell 4-1 against the Philadelphia Union.
When a team lacks chemistry and luck, matches tend to turn into a slog, and that’s exactly what happened Wednesday night. Unfortunately the result wasn’t entirely unexpected; Philadelphia is an insanely talented attacking team at this point, but Atlanta United played fairly well for the first 40 minutes of the match. The team created some opportunities (and missed them wildly), but Andrew
Goatman Gutman conjured some of his own luck and scored his third goal of the season via a rebound.
The draw wasn’t to be held, though, and Philly would go on to score the heartbreaker right before half and then two more goals in the second half in mediocre but effective fashion. Goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo is certainly going to be called into question for his role in the loss, but the team’s confidence as a whole seemed to melt away rapidly as the second half progressed. Passes turned sloppy and any sort of cohesion the team grasped disappeared.
Gutman mentioned in the post-match press conference that the team needs to create their own luck, and he also stated that perhaps they need to set more of a tone for their backline with some more physicality. Both of these points are true, and the team would do well to heed that advice from the mouth of one of the most consistent, hard-working players on the team this season.
The loss puts Atlanta United at 11th in the Eastern Conference, but still (somehow) only three points out of a playoff spot. They remain in Philly for a couple of days before heading out to Portland to take on a side that just beat Austin FC in Austin, with a win being the only viable option. What can go wrong?
In the meantime, though, check out in full what Gonzalo Pineda, Andrew Gutman, and Alan Franco had to say after the match (spoiler alert: Pineda was NOT happy with the officiating). Be sure to drop your own comments below, as well.
Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda
On why Raúl Gudiño has yet to play
“Well, because I felt that Rocco [Ríos Novo] was doing a good job. I think he helped in the way that we want to play but obviously the same is a bit the consistency that I’ve been talking about, about trying to be consistent and many reasons. But Raúl is training good and well, we’ll see what happens.”
His thoughts on the match
“I felt that we played better than them in the first half. I think, I have to control my emotions in this moment because I’m very upset at the guy making the calls tonight, the referee. I’m very upset at him. Very. I have to control a little bit my emotions because I felt that it had a big impact on today’s game. Big impact. Not by one specific play but in general, it had some tendency to disrupt our play. I have to control a little bit that because I feel like the first half was pretty good and a couple bad decisions led into certain things that I didn’t like. So I have to control a little bit that, I have to check the film but there were very specific plays that I felt like where we were punished and because of that, we concede. The first goal comes from a clear foul on Ronaldo [Cisneros]. Very clear. Very clear. He calls the other way, the ball comes from there. A lot of different actions where he was not consistent at all so I’m very upset at that because I felt that we did a great job in the first half. So we didn’t deserve to be losing at half time and after that, probably the second half wasn’t great but I felt that the first half, we should have been winning and that didn’t happen. Then, the beginning of the second half wasn’t as expected, we concede a goal that was a soft goal and then the third one the same, the fourth. So that’s what happened tonight.”
On if he would describe all of Philadelphia’s goals as “soft”
“Yes. Yes, I felt like, I mean, the first one comes from again, I have to say it, from a clear foul on Ronaldo [Cisneros]. That, again, happened in multiple locations where we were punished on that side on those calls. We were ahead but we weren’t getting the fouls, they were not clear fouls. I have to re-watch the play where Luiz [Araújo] is on top of the box and Blake literally smashes him. I have to see that was actually a foul or not. But for me at least, we should have got the ball but after that, they even get the ball. So little things like that, we got a yellow for kicking the ball away but when they did that in the first half in the corner, they didn’t get a yellow card. So little things like that and the fouls that we don’t get but they get with a lot of inconsistency you’re refereeing. I think that when we’re facing a very good opponent like them, that changes. Especially on the first goal, we concede that goal when we were dominating, clearly, Philadelphia. That obviously affected us. So the balance was there, the balance of the team. We didn’t concede big chances in the first besides the first goal, a shot from the top of the box. I call that a soft call. But that balance that I made reference to, it wasn’t there because of that lack of consistency in both boxes. We are conceding soft goals, we need to fix that. But again, for me, the way we are going to fix that is through the ball, through possession, through being better offensively and scoring more goals. We created a lot of chances but we score those goals, I think we control better the tempo of the games and it happened multiple times like Columbus game, we are dominating but we are not scoring the goals that we produce. Then, suddenly, we are losing the game and the same happened in multiple games. So we need to fix that but through our style, which is attacking and trying to be more solid on the back.”
Atlanta United defender Andrew Gutman
His thoughts on the game
“I didn’t think it was a 4-1 game, to be honest. A couple plays, they capitalized on us. Maybe the second goal, right before half, was a little bit lucky with a deflection. But you know, for the most part, I thought we were creating chances, we were controlling the tempo. Just a bit unlucky and a bit unfortunate in terms of not being locked in for 90 minutes.”
On if the second goal conceded right before halftime was a hard goal for the team to take
“No, I don’t think so. The first half, we were by far the better team, whether the scoreline showed it or not. Like I said, they got a little bit lucky with the deflection that deflected off of Santi [Santiago Sosa] and away from Rocco [Ríos Novo] into the goal. But you know, even going 2-1 down into halftime, there’s still 45 minutes left to play. We come out in the second half and we’re pushing for the goal and we’re creating these chances and it’s just not falling. Philly is a team that’s in crazy form, they’re 25 goals in whatever, the last five games or something crazy like that. So when we gave them the opportunities to maybe get a goal, they’re in a position where they’re going to take it and they did. But like I said, I didn’t think it was a 4-1 game. I thought it was maybe closer to 1-1 or even if we got the second goal, I think we could have got the third and deflated. But sometimes that’s just how football is.”
On if switching off mentally is to blame for certain goals conceded by the team this season
“I can only kind of speak for what I do in the games, I’m not in the other guys’ head. For me, my mentality as a defender is like, I would rather almost get knocked out by the ball than see the ball in the back of the net. That’s the mentality we have to have. I’m not saying that we don’t have that mentality but I think, like I said, we’re getting a little bit unfortunate with how the balls have been dropping and the deflections and stuff. But at the same time, I just feel like we also have to create our own luck. Maybe we have to fly into some tackles and maybe take a yellow card but it sets the tone for the match like, ‘you’re not going to come in here and just score some goals on us.’ I think we still have time to turn this season around. We can get on a run and we can still shoot into the playoffs. So for us, this is a tough game for us to swallow but at the same time, it’s kind of like, ‘alright, let’s just forget about this and focus on these six games and hopefully, we can get on a run here.’”
Atlanta United defender Alan Franco
On why the team continues to concede goals like it did tonight
“In various games we’ve been having various errors on set pieces, plays in the air. The truth is we’ve been working a lot to solve that area but I think sooner or later we’re going to solve it.”
On the team giving up 12 goals on set pieces this season and how it can fix it now
“We’re going to continue working hard, as I said. On set pieces, it’s an area that’s very important to keep working on and preparing. I think we can solve that and start to win more games in a row, try not to receive as many goals from set pieces.”
Go give our Twitter Spaces show a listen as we discussed everything about this match and the one going forward. Also, be sure to listen in next week as we have Michael Parkhurst and Greg Garza on the show to discuss Atlanta United and their new(er) venture, Beyond Goals Mentoring!