As a neutral viewer, Atlanta United vs Chicago Fire on Saturday night provided about all the entertainment MLS after dark typically offers. Red cards handed out to arguably the wrong player, other red cards handed out for no reason, the hometown guy on the away team captaining and scoring, and chaos around the boxes to see both teams pull a 3-3 draw.
As an Atlanta fan, it feels like another wasted opportunity to snag three points on the road, especially considering Chicago played down a man for almost half the match. Instead, two completely preventable goals gave Chicago the 2-1 advantage after Atlanta struck first off a Thiago Almada free kick that Andrew Gutman was able to poke home. Giorgos Giakoumakis entered the fray at halftime and helped give the Five Stripes the lead with two goals of his own to make it 3-2, but a sketchy second yellow to Luiz Araujo saw the game even out to 10v10.
Atlanta was unable to hold on to the advantage and gave up the tying goal late. Chicago celebrated it as a win, Atlanta definitely looked at it as a loss. The result keeps Atlanta in a tight fourth place, but one can only hope that these simple concessions and inability to see out games doesn’t come back to haunt them later in the season. Needless to say, Gonzalo Pineda had a lot to say about the match in his press conference as the team exits one of their busiest weeks of the season before heading home to prepare to travel to Orlando. Take a look below and be sure to leave us your own thoughts.
Atlanta United Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda:
On what the message to the team was
“Upset at the result, obviously. I felt that we were managing a good situation, one man up. Then coming back again and giving up soft goals. The three goals are soft. And then suddenly we are winning with one man up and then the red card to Luiz. Is that a good call? We’ll see. A promising attack, I don’t know. It’s not cynical. It’s not a promising attack for me, so I don’t know what that call was for. Of course, they put us under pressure. They bring two number nines. They finish tying the game at the end. To me, we couldn’t punish them when we had good chances. We had a few good chances and we couldn’t finish that. And we are giving away soft goals that I’m not happy with.”
On Chicago’s first goal and if someone was in charge of the first post
“Yes, Ronald is always in charge of that but we have certain movements, certain things that we work on and we to try to protect that. But certainly it was a good strike by Shaqiri but to me we have to save those.”
On Chicago’s second goal and no defender closing down Shaqiri
“Yes, of course, and it came from a throw-in and we’re not ready for that throw-in. And then it’s so easy. It’s so simple. A throw-in, a long switch, received with the chest inside the box, no pressure at all and then no closing down the opponent, no blocking shots which is something that we message very often. So, frustrated with that one. The third one, a cross to the far post, there’s a little deflection at the near post and not winning those duels. Again, it seems too easy. It feels like we have to really create good plays, good actions, to get goals but it feels like we are just leaking soft goals so we need to solidify that. Again, not blaming anyone. No defender, goalkeeper, midfielder. It’s everyone, from top to bottom. Reactions, transitions, can we punish them in those moments and kill the game. It’s three goals different with one man up. Can we have that mentality, that killer mentality, especially away, especially with one man up. That’s something that we need to reflect, watch the film and then message to the players how to react in those moments on the field.”
Atlanta United defender Andrew Gutman
On the team’s mental toughness and how to develop it mid-season
“It’s like sink or swim. If we don’t develop it, then it’s going to turn into something like last year. But like I said, there are guys in the locker room who realize what’s going on, that have the willingness and desire and awareness to change and I think we will change. We’re a top team in this league. I think we’ve scored the most goals in the league... (Doug Roberson- “You’ve also allowed the most”) Yeah but that’s something we can work on and it’s still early in the season. You’re right, we do have more veterans on this team this year and I think that’s going to put us through this tough patch.”
On his goal and if that was a play they’d worked on
“Right place, right time. I kind of had a feeling that Thiago might go back post. And whenever you go back post, the only thing the keeper can do with the way he hits it is kind of push it so I just tried to position myself there and it fell right to me and I just had to tap it in.”
On Atlanta’s second goal
“Yeah we talked about it at halftime. The second post was open so I was trying to get into that position every chance I could and Ronald played a great ball in and GG just scores for fun so it was right place, right time for him.”