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Four thoughts on Atlanta United’s last gasp 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire

I mean, yeah three points, but good god.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Atlanta United FC Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

That was a terrible game

Yes the team won, but hot damn that was terrible to watch. That’s the kinda game where you introduce somebody to Atlanta United/soccer and have them watch and they decide to run far, far away, possibly losing your phone number and coming up with any manner of excuse not limited to claiming the death of a long lost family member in order to avoid ever ending up in a situation stuck watching a game like this again.

Atlanta was slow, sloppy, lethargic, and at the end of the day bailed out at one inspiring passage of play and one lucky bounce in the mixer. Last week, the discussion was about Atlanta failing to get all three points by conceding at the death. I would love to turn around at this moment and say “This is the growth we want to see!” but forgive me for not being in the mood to praise much at all about that performance.

Santiago Sosa needed a big game... and it didn’t manifest

Sosa has found himself a bit on the outside looking in on Gonzalo Pineda’s preferred XI after missing time early this year with an injury, suspension (earned last season), but most of all due to the solid and improving play of Franco Ibarra. Despite Ibarra’s return yesterday after serving his own red card suspension last week, Sosa got his second straight start and neither have gone well. Against Toronto and without Thiago Almada, the results were a little easier to explain, but Saturday’s disjointed display has to be a concern for Pineda and how his midfield is structured with Sosa in it. There was a noticeable lack of bite and energy there that permeated throughout the team — two attributes that we know Ibarra brings with him.

Ibarra himself made a big individual mistake after coming on that led to Chicago’s equalizer, but it’s worth noting that when he came on, Sosa stayed on the field. Now obviously, Sosa shouldn’t be blamed for Ibarra’s mistake, which Sosa truly had nothing to do with. But by virtue of them both playing together in midfield simultaneously, I can’t help but wonder if the combination doesn’t screw with Ibarra’s head when he’s on the field, since Sosa occupies the same spaces he prefers to take up during certain moments.

Sosa has to find his role in the team and some form to go with it before the transfer window, or else it will make a lot of sense for the team and the player to part ways sooner rather than later.

The team looks tired and beaten down

Obviously Sunday looked like a bunch of heavy legs, which is a concern considering they had an extra day of prep for this game versus what they would normally have playing every Saturday. But beyond looking at this through the scope of the game, many players seem to be struggling for fitness in the team. Giorgios Giakoumakis seemed to aggravate a hamstring issue that forced him out of last week’s game against Toronto. Thiago Almada returned from injury but wasn’t spectacular. The backup goalkeeper — playing for the injured Brad Guzan — left with his own leg injury at halftime. Caleb Wiley just came back from international duty travel. And Luiz Araujo and Derrick Etienne Jr. looked slow and tired on the wings. It’s understandable for this to be the case for one or two players who are going through some issues, but the fact that so many players are facing injuries/burnout is a concern.

The players will generally train less over the coming couple of weeks as Atlanta heads into a busy period with midweek matches coming this week. Perhaps the lack of strenuous training could help, and hopefully some of these players can get themselves physically right soon.

Clement Diop looked great!

Let’s end on a high note. Atlanta’s third string keeper looked every bit a starter in his half of play, making some excellent saves as he tends to do when he’s practicing stopping Thiago Almada free kicks after training on a regular basis. While the goalkeeper injury situation is scarily reminiscent of a year ago, thankfully the last link in the chain appears to be a strong one. Hopefully the turf monster doesn’t eat him too.