Atlanta United must convert “domination” in the game to goals on the scoreboard
Despite Atlanta’s poor season last year, we heard a lot about Atlanta United’s expected goals, it’s chances created, etc. They certainly did create these opportunities for themselves, but they converted these chances into goals at a far lower rate then their competitors jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference. The first half of last night’s game was another example of Atlanta outplaying an opponent — in this case in basically every facet of the sport — and yet went into the locker room without a goal, let alone a lead. Obviously that’s going to happen sometimes, but it’s a concerning trend and one that the team can’t afford if it wants to drastically change from it’s 11th place finish in the East last year. There were some promising signs in the half, but until those signs start producing tangible results, it’s hard to believe things will really change for this team on the field.
Atlanta United turns off... again
Oftentimes I hear fans ask what Pineda’s “system” is. It’s another way of asking what the team is known for doing — how do they operate? Well, there are ideals there like pressure and possession and those kinds of things on the one hand. Atlanta certainly showed those positive aspects of their game through much of Saturday’s 90 minutes. They also showed one of the massive negatives that has become too routine — losing focus and/or energy during a game. This time, it was just before the hour mark, when everyone decided to relax and let Michael Bradley easily distribute to Toronto only star playmaker on the wing. From there, Federico Bernardeschi did his thing and gave Toronto a lead. If this kind of thing plagues Atlanta in front of their own fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it’s certainly going to continue being an issue when they hit the road.
Franco Ibarra and Matheus Rossetto are silencing the haters
And yeah, I’ve been one of them. I was certainly skeptical entering the season how well this duo was going to be able to control midfield, but I give a tip of the hat to both of them, especially Ibarra, whose mistakes are more likely to be glaring and leave the team exposed. But that’s not happening — on the contrary he’s stepping up and making crucial tackles in all of the 180 minutes he’s played. And Matheus Rossetto was more adventurous going forward Saturday and deserved his goal (even if it was kind of lucky to see it find the back of the net).
Miles Robinson looks all the way back
I mean, jeez. Again, I’ve maintained skepticism as to just how much of his supreme athleticism that Robinson would be able to maintain after suffering such a devastating injury, but Saturday night he was chasing down opposing forwards, defending in space, and looking tidy doing it. It honestly seems miraculous. And yeah, he’s almost certainly going to leave at the end of the year, so let’s enjoy him while we can and hope he can help this team win something.
Atlanta United worked the ball into better positions than last week
Despite the worse result, it’s fair to say the Fives Stripes attack did a better job against Toronto in working the ball in dangerous positions and threatening to score from the run of play. Toronto made it difficult, bunkering in deep and forcing Atlanta to try to score something ugly by the end of the game. But even in the first half, there was a concerted effort by the team to work the ball into the box, and for service to come from areas closer to the box than from the touchline. Ultimately they forced Sean Johnson to work, and credit to him for making saves. Giakoumakis will help conversion of some of the opportunities the team created in the first half.