Ozzie Alonso is back!
There, that’s the recap.
A lot has happened since our last match. Atlanta United and DirtySouthSoccer saw a lot of important regulars called up during the international break including Miles Robinson, Georgios Giakoumakis, Thiago Almada, Derrick Etienne, Jay Fortune, Luis Abram, and our very own David McFarland. The team almost saw the departure of Carlos Bocanegra to Rangers but reports quickly surfaced that he had removed himself from consideration for their Director of Football position. Luis Araujo also departed for Brazil. While away, Robinson won another CONCACAF international trophy but potentially picked up another national team injury in the process.
With Robinson likely to still be out, Giakoumakis limited after playing 66 minutes on Monday, Abram and Almada likely limited due to travel, and Etienne and Fortune likely away in preparation for the Gold Cup, Atlanta United is looking pretty thin. For what should be an entertaining (in a bad way) midweek rematch against NYCFC, the team and this writing staff were forced to look to the 2s for short-term deals with Nic Firmino, Luke Brennan, and me all punching our ticket for the Benz (or my couch...yay).
But there is a silver lining. We don’t have to play on that postage stamp they call a soccer pitch in the Bronx.
This New York team is floundering. As our very own J. Sam Jones wrote on MLSSoccer.com’s power rankings last week,
NYCFC have earned three points out of the last 24 available (0W-5L-3D record). In that span, they’ve scored five times in eight games. Get this team a striker, ASAP.
After that article came out, NYCFC eked out a 1-1 draw at home against Columbus during the international window. The strangest part about this team though is that they have better players than their results would suggest. Talles Magno, Keaton Parks, Alfredo Morales, and James Sands are all quality players up the spine, but they are surely missing Taty Castellanos.
Atlanta will be hoping New York doesn’t suddenly rediscover their ability to play against a depleted Atlanta side, and will also be hoping the officials don’t repeat some of the inconsistencies that led to Brad Guzan injuring his MCL and Franco Ibarra being sent off with a red card.
After the match, Gonzalo Pineda had a few things to say about the referees, and PRO will almost certainly have that in mind heading into this match.
“I’m very upset with the way Drew [Fischer] carried on with the game. It was the second time that they [NYCFC] went at the knee of Brad Guzan without a punishment. I am very upset with that and I told him [Drew Fischer] that. Again, we need to earn respect from the Referees and the League.
“I saw the tackle on Brad Guzan and just believe that it is unbelievable that it was not even a yellow card. To me, it was a bad call. It was the second time in a row that they went against Brad [Guzan] that way. I need to take care of my players because the referees are not doing that with my players but with the others, they are.”
If soccer players’ memories are anything like baseball players, we could see some retaliation if the referee doesn’t set a strong tone early.
Predicted Starting XIs
Honestly, out of respect for you and the sports journalism world, I won’t even try to guess NYCFC’s starting line-up.
But I am contractually obliged to read Gonzalo Pineda’s mind so here’s a guess.
Prediction: Atlanta United 3-1 NYCFC
Another Tyler Wolff goal at the back post, a slashing Olympico from Andrew Gutman, and a goal for Luke Brennan assisted by Nic Firmino put Atlanta United over the top against NYCFC.