There isn’t much to say other than “that’s unacceptable.” It doesn’t take the best football minds in the world to figure out what went wrong; frantic passes leading to turnovers, static players ball-watching, duels being lost in every part of the pitch, and what looked like (from afar) confusion amongst positioning and roles all led to one of the worst performances the Five Stripes have ever displayed.
The whole evening was just unfortunate, and instead of dwelling on the loss they just have to put the “Ted Lasso be-a-goldfish” mentality to the test. Sure, examine the tape, learn from it, please don’t ever do it again, but move on and get back to winning ways next weekend against the Red Bulls.
What this match did show was the need for another true number 10. Almada is irreplaceable, we know that, but he also won’t be in Atlanta forever. Surely Lagerway and Bocanegra are cooking up options for the future, but this one hurts. Plus, it’s hard to say how things would’ve been different had Tyler Wolff perhaps started the match in that position. It’s also understandable why he didn’t; he’s coming off a shoulder injury and hasn’t played a match in months. Almost everything about the lineup Saturday night was a coaching staff gamble and unfortunately it didn’t play out well. It happens.
Ultimately, though, the football just wasn’t good, and the team outside of the typical starters have to flow with much more chemistry than fans saw tonight. Starting XI consistency is nice, but between the U.S. Open Cup, Leagues Cup, and general fixture congestion there’ll be plenty more matches where the depth will be tested, and they have to jointly be better than this match. Thankfully it’s only March; reset and keep on keepin’ on.
Anyway, check out what Brad Guzan and Miguel Berry had to say after the match (Pineda’s quotes and video weren’t included, though I can’t imagine he was happy).
Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan
On tonight’s match:
“Our application and intensity tonight. We lacked in all areas. You can’t do that in this league.”
On if it was overconfidence or how he explains the performance:
“I don’t know what it was to be honest. In this league you can’t just show up to a game and think you are going to win. You need to apply yourself. We didn’t do that tonight. We didn’t to that in terms of tackling, pressing the ball. All the things we talked about all week, we didn’t do well enough tonight.”
On the intensity tonight and if he said anything to players after match as captain:
“It wasn’t good enough tonight by any means. It’s a long season ahead. Just as high as we were last week, you can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. We have to take this one on the chin and learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Atlanta United forward Miguel Berry
On the play of the attack today, finishing with two shots:
“I think it starts with everything. We didn’t do what we wanted to do. We didn’t play the way we needed to play. I think we are a team that wants to be on the front foot with and without the ball. Tonight we were neither. We are a team that gets forward, gets crosses in. I can’t remember a cross into the box tonight. It’s a long season though. You have to have a short memory and work hard next week.”
On if he sensed in warmups any kind of lack of energy:
“No, I didn’t sense that. I can see why it may look from the outside that we didn’t have energy, but I just think we were second to everything and slow to react. There were a couple of times when we did do what we wanted to do. We turned them over in good spots, but we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be in those situations. If we did that more consistently, we would have made the game a lot harder for them. We made it an easy game for them tonight and that’s on us. We know we need to do better, and we will do better.”
As usual, if you get some time go check out the post-match Twitter Spaces show with myself, Sydney, and Tommy from Scarves and Spikes. It was a much needed therapy session after this one.