Atlanta United were riding high last week after scoring five against Portland. This week, they came crashing back down to earth with a disastrous 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Columbus Crew.
Major lineup changes were in order after seven players received national team call ups including Luis Abram, Miles Robinson, Giorgos Giakoumakis and recent sensation Thiago Almada. Gonzalo Pineda adjusted his starting lineup by handing 17-year-old Noah Cobb his MLS debut to fill in for Miles Robinson.
In midfield, Pineda played a bit of musical chairs moving Amara Sejdic to fill the attacking midfielder position and deploying Santiago Sosa in the number eight role for the Argentine’s first start of the season.
Miguel Berry, a familiar face to Columbus, was set to lead the line in attack in lieu of Giakoumakis. The Spanish striker had his best season with the Crew in 2021, racking up eight goals and an assist in 18 appearances.
Things didn’t look good from the outset. Atlanta United struggled to pass through midfield and move the ball forward from the back. The absence of Almada as a creative force in midfield was very apparent and it was clear that Sejdic wasn’t comfortable in that role.
It took 12 minutes for Columbus to open the scoring after some sloppy defending and a lucky rebound allowed Aiden Morris an easy header at point-blank range. The concession put the Five Stripes behind early with a 1-0 score.
From that point, things just went downhill until halftime. Atlanta found themselves unable to get forward and were frequently pinned back defensively. The passing through the midfield didn’t get any better and the best thing that could’ve happened was the referee’s whistle.
To add to the night’s gloom, Andrew Gutman went down with an injury before halftime and had to be replaced by Tyler Wolff, pushing Caleb Wiley to left back.
The halftime break didn’t seem to make matters better as Christian Ramirez doubled the Crew’s lead in the 47th minute and was quickly followed by a third Columbus goal courtesy of Philip Quinton just four minutes later. Just six minutes into the second half and the Five Stripes trailed 3-0.
With Atlanta not showing any signs of getting up, Columbus continued its barrage of goals with Ramirez earning his brace in the 64th minute and Jacen Russell-Rowe finding the net four minutes later. With still 22 minutes to go, things just kept getting worse for the Five Stripes who found themselves down by an embarrassing five goals.
Brooks Lennon would come through in the 71st minute to deliver a consolation goal after a really good strike across goal. His shot, Atlanta’s second in the match, put the visitors on the board to make the score 5-1.
Despite Lennon pulling one back, the team just was never to get back into the game. The final whistle blew, but not before Maximillian Arfsten scored a sixth goal for Columbus to end Atlanta’s miserable night with a 6-1 loss.
I’m not even certain what to say at the moment. It was just… awful. A lot of tonight was reminiscent of the 2022 season and each goal seemed to slash through the players’ will to keep fighting.
It was painful for you to watch and it was painful for me to write, but what were your thoughts of the game? It’s ok. You can use this thread as a pillow to scream into.