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Miguel Berry: It’s about making the little plays. We know we can do it.

If this team could just fix the soft goals, they’d be world beaters

MLS: New England Revolution at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Are you not entertained?

Atlanta United fought back from an early 2-0 deficit to go up 3-2 against the New England Revolution Wednesday night - off goals from Giorgos Giakoumakis, Thiago Almada, and Miguel Berry - before ultimately conceding the late equalizer with only minutes left.

The match was an absolute roller coaster of emotions, as New England started off flying from a goal within the first minute. Brad Guzan received a pass from Miles Robinson under a bit of pressure and unfortunately sent it straight ahead to a waiting Carles Gil, who quickly made it 1-0. Atlanta responded well with intense pressure and plenty of attack, but it would be the Revs that struck again off a cross that simply wasn’t defended well.

It’s worth pointing out here that the team didn’t tuck their tail and give up, they fought back relentlessly and truly pushed New England. Obviously giving up the late equalizer is a big talking point, but what happened in the second 45 is (mostly) encouraging.

Giakoumakis is showing how he’s every bit of who he was advertised to be. The guy finds himself in all the right places, consistently, but also isn’t afraid to drop back, hold the ball up when needed, and defend when called upon.

But it would be Atlanta’s wonder kid DP Thiago Almada who found the 2-2 equalizer off a glorious run preceded by a dummy reception, after which his shot took a fortunate deflection.

And then....

...enter the Smoothie King himself...

Miguel Berry, ladies and gentlemen.

This guy has faced a lot of criticism from all around, and rightfully so, but that was a got. dang. banger. Hopefully, for his sake, this opens the floodgates and he can become the prolific backup striker Atlanta has sorely needed.

Unfortunately, the celebrations were quieted moments later when New England found the late equalizer in a defensive lapse shortly after Santiago Sosa was subbed on. Again...roller coaster of emotions.

The draw puts more emphasis on next week’s clash against LAFC, as the draws simply aren’t cutting it anymore. The distance between the top of the table and Atlanta gets a bit lengthier with each single-point match, and nothing would fire up the morale than a win against one of the best teams in MLS, regardless of if they’re hungover from Concacaf Champions League or not.

The team is showing they can score goals; they have the longest running active goal-scoring streak in MLS at 17 matches, but the defensive lapses and soft goals have to be stopped.

Pineda was asked about this, and plenty more, in the post-match press conference, and you can read his comments in full below. Also check out what Miguel Berry, Derrick Etienne, and Tyler Wolff had to say as they wrapped up the match. As usual, we want to hear from you below, and be sure to check out the Spaces link at the bottom!

Atlanta United Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda:

On giving up soft goals, late goals at the end of game, and on frustration level after the game

“Of course, I am frustrated, because I felt like we played a great game, but again, there were moments where we lacked concentration, [New England] put us under pressure, but at the same time, that I am frustrated, I am very proud of the game that the team played. It is not easy to come back from down 2-0 at home at halftime, and even before that, I felt like we were putting a lot of pressure and energy into the game and playing good football. We were breaking the pressure from New England in the middle-block, playing in a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-2-3-1, it wasn’t easy, so we started to be more mobile and moving the ball fast, creating some chances in the first half that were not so clear, but in the second half I feel like the amount of pressure we put on them was very good and good to see. The middle-pressure was great, the activity was very good for the most part, and we were two minutes away from being very, very happy. So, I cannot be completely frustrated, because I feel like there are many positives from this performance, but as I told the players, there is nothing we can say now that will make us feel better. The taste in our mouth is really, really bad.”

On the message to the locker room that spurred on the comeback in the second half and then again after the game

“Well, I normally keep things private but like I said, we were frustrated, and it was a silent locker room. I told them I was very proud of them for the effort and the good football that they played today. If we have these performances game after game, we are going to do well. Also, because, on my list when I look at the calendar, 16th game in the season facing new England who I believe is one of the best teams in the conference, I felt this a good time to assess how good we are playing, what we are missing. I think there are a lot of positives in that. Of course, conceding easy goals is one of those things we need to improve. What I think the hardest thing in football is to create chances and play offensively, so I think defensively it’s not easier, but we will try to work on that.”

On conceding late goals, and why it keeps happening at the very last moments

“There is not a full answer. We have been messaging and training over this. We didn’t have much time to train specifically over this topic. Especially after Orlando. We will keep working on that. At times it is moments of concentration because it is not like our back line is a disaster and we are broken, and they get chances after chances. It is not like that. Even in Orlando, you remember they had territorial dominance, but they never created many chances. We are not conceding high quality chances every game. Now, there are moments of lack of concentration where we are allowing soft goals where it’s a little of lack of concentration. Certain things we can do better like blocking crosses, blocking shots. Like other things in life, you must continue improving and some day we will fix it.”

On Giorgios Giakoumakis playing well and his goal scoring this season

“Feels like he is scoring every game. Not just his goals but his overall performance. I thought today we were using him way better in terms of the buildup. We found a different way to break the midfield line with those passes to Giorgios. Him shielding the ball then playing the attacking midfielders. At times it opens the channel for him in the middle and from there we can break the lines. I felt like today we did a good job of that. I think Giakoumakis is the type of player that can help us in the build up, stretching opponents, and can help us once we are in the box putting pressure on the center box. I have to manage his load and today.”

Atlanta United forward Miguel Berry

On how was the team after the game

“Obviously upset. We know we are a good team. Especially with the performance we played much better. Scored three goals and gave up three; we’re disappointed with that. You know, we know it is a long season. Every point counts, and this is not the first time we have dropped points at the end of the game. You know I think there’s an optimism too because you see what we can do in the moments of the game. Now it’s about doing it for 90 minutes. Which you know it’s obviously still early in the season, and in MLS, the playoffs is where it really counts. But you have to get there first. I think we are confident but obviously it was disappointing.”

On his goal and how purely he struck the ball

“Yea, anyone that plays knows that when you hit it that clean, you know before and you don’t even have to look up, and that is always a good feeling. I think I was joking and said that was maybe only my third shot of the season. So, obviously, there is room for improvement in that department, but I am glad to get the goal obviously.”

On the team giving up 8 goals in the 89th minute or later

“No of course, it goes down to everyone. I think it starts at the front obviously. You know it is not easy to do that though. Derrick [Etienne JR] and I know from last season in Columbus, that this was another issue that we had. That happens in football and those that are missed are the ones that count the most. I think it’s about making the little plays. We know we can do it. We have the ability to, we defend well, and there are many moves in the game where we defend very well and obviously you don’t see those at the end of the game, but you see the goals that you can see. It is about doing those more consistently and eliminating mistakes.”

Atlanta United midfielder Derrick Etienne Jr.

On the things the team can build off from this game in terms of the stats and the football played

“Yeah, for sure. I think you saw we didn’t give up after giving up the goals. I think they were definitely against the run of play. A little disappointing to be able to dominate that much and not win, being able to get three goals at home and not win. That’s something that we necessarily want to do. I think that we can build on it, just the idea to attack, the chances we were able to create. Unlucky on some of them, but still able to get three goals. So that’s always a good thing that you can look at but also, I think we did a good job in a lot of plays after actually cutting out plays. But you know you don’t always remember the good ones, you remember the bad ones so as long as we continue getting chances, creating chances and dominating games like this, I think that will cut out the little mistakes that we make.”

On what the team’s overall focus is heading into the LAFC match

“We are going to obviously recover, that’s a good team. We want to make sure that things like this, like what happened today, the goals that we gave today don’t happen then. But we definitely want to take the positive away from this, because like you said it was so dominant. Our mindset is to recover and then be ready for that game because that’s three points that we need, that we just dropped two points so now we want to get three and it’ll be a good statement. I think that’ll be something that’s very good if we go there and put another performance like this against one of the top teams in the league, it’s a confidence booster. And will jumpstart the rest of the season.”

On what the team was doing well tonight to dominate most of the match

“I think we were finding players in the pockets very well. Thiago (Almada) had another good game. I feel like we played into Gigi (Giorgos Giakoumakis) a lot more today, you saw his ability to hold defenders off and link up plays. So, I think it was also a mixture of getting him behind. A lot of times I feel like we play into feet and into pockets so much that teams collapse and stuff... But I think we did a good job mixing in, going in behind, stretching them and then being able to find the pockets then, now we can attack. So, I think that as long as we keep continuing on this, creating these many chances, scoring every game, multiple goals every game. That’s something that’s good so we just need to build on that and cut out the little mistakes that we made.”

Atlanta United midfielder Tyler Wolff

On what does Gonzalo Pineda told him before going in

“He says to bring energy, that we need the energy, especially tonight going down two, one and coming back. It was important to rally up the guys and get back in the game. I thought that we did a good job of that. In the last moments of the game we need to do better.”

On after he came on the team was really applying pressure

“Yea, I think the biggest thing was we kept going, we kept attacking, attack after attack, getting shots, crosses and everything. The biggest thing was our prevention. Once we lost it, we got it right back, we didn’t let them really connect passes. That was a big moment for us.”

On how him and Luiz Araujo swapped sides at one point in the game

“Yea, we just want Luiz more direct going at the guys on their right side. Me working the pockets. Trying to get combinations with Brooks (Lennon) and get some crosses.