Well, the Benz clean sheet streak had to come to an end sooner or later. If only it had lasted another 90 minutes. And especially not that player. Where’s Kaka when you need him?
Still and all, it was a great day in American soccer, and a pretty darn good one for Atlanta. And for Josef Martinez. But you know what? We get to do it all over again October 22nd when Toronto FC comes to town. Atlanta United wisely left itself room to break its own attendance record.
Once again, Atlanta outpossessed and outshot its opponent. But this time, defensive lapses were the difference. Whether it be Anton Walkes not tracking back to cover, or Brad Guzan failing to judge the height of a cross, the issue was clear: the team lacks sufficient defensive depth to make up for the absences of Greg Garza and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. The makeshift back line didn’t work out too well.
Otherwise, the game plan was essentially unchanged. Compare the heatmap to the one from the New England game; there’s not a lot of difference:
The Atlanta side is virtually unchanged, even showing the atypical attacking bias to the right. Orlando City’s map is not a great deal different than the New England Revolution managed with only 9 men. Indeed, the red spot over their goal indicates that they were forced into pretty close-range defending.
Let’s also compare Josef Martinez with Dom Dwyer:
This is a bit harder to see, but what it shows is that Josef is far more willing to track back than Dwyer is. In other words, Dwyer is a goal-poacher with no defensive side to his game. On the other hand, he looks to be sneaky, cropping up all over the attacking half and therefore being tough to track. This doesn’t change a great deal, by the way, if you add Cyle Larin to the map.
But here’s perhaps the most surprising thing from this game: there were no cards issued to either team. Now I ask you, what kind of rivalry is that?
With that in mind, here are the Dirty South Soccer Staff Player Ratings:
Man of the Match honors go to Josef Martinez for his third straight. Not really a tough choice, that, and he will be looking to break more records Wednesday night and keep this all-important streak alive. Miguel Almiron gets a Special Mention for being, well, himself, and for coming very close to scoring on at least one occasion. Tito Villalba also gets one for being so nearly the difference maker. Again.
GK: Brad Guzan – 6. Probably Brad’s worst outing in an Atlanta United uniform. He was hung out to dry on two of the goals, but the third was at least in part his fault for failing to get high enough to clear the ball with a punch. Expect him to get back on track with the anemic Galaxy offense coming to town.
RB: Anton Walkes – 5. I might give Walkes a weaker rating, if not for this:
Now reflecting I'd like to apologise for my performance and will take fall responsibility for mistakes in the game (part1)— Anton Walkes (@AntonWalkes) September 17, 2017
+ thank you to the team for being solidiers and sticking in, also thank you to the fans for breaking records again nothing but love(part2)❤️— Anton Walkes (@AntonWalkes) September 17, 2017
Kudos to him for that kind of response. That’s quite an admission, especially coming from such a young player. Came out after 81 frustrating minutes.
CB: Michael Parkhurst – 6. It seems strange to state that a central defender didn’t have a great deal to do when conceding 3 goals, but it’s true. Orlando converted 3 of their 5 shots on goal. Those conversions were a killer, of course.
CB: Jeff Larentowicz – 6. An unusually poor game from Jeff, who is already used to providing defensive support. Apparently doing it for a full 90 minutes was a big ask.
LB: Chris McCann – 7. Not the consensus choice to replace Garza, but that’s how Tata thinks (that is, unpredictably). Actually had a fairly good game. May have let his player go on one of the Orlando goals, but did assist on Josef’s second and had a long-distance shot off target. He had 74 touches for the game, just one less than the team leader, Yamil Asad.
CM: Carlos Carmona – 6. A very quiet game for C-Squared, who did not look to be playing in Jeff Larentowicz’ defensive role in midfield. That’s interesting, because Julian Gressel didn’t seem to be playing that position either. That may be the key to the defensive lapses. One shot, off target.
CM: Julian Gressel – 7. Played only 71 minutes after skipping Wednesday’s rout. Provided the primary assist on Josef’ first goal. Played relatively well all around, and was replaced only to provide some more attacking firepower.
CAM: Miguel Almiron – 8. Apart from running around the midfield as usual like a Tasmanian Devil, Miggy had 7 shots, more than even Josef, with 4 on target and 2 hitting the woodwork. So close, yet so far away.
LW: Yamil Asad – 7. Still getting heavily fouled (3 this time, not far off his average). However, he was not quite his usual productive self. He led the team with touches (75), but generated only 58 passes from those touches. Came off after 88 minutes.
RW: Tito Villalba – 8. Got the secondary assist on the first goal, and the sole assist on the third. Then came oh so close to repeating his Lion Slayer heroics late. Probably just as well, because if he had the roof would probably have been blown off.
FWD: Josef Martinez – 9. He scores goals, he scores goals, he scores goals. ‘Nuff said.
SUB: Kevin Kratz – 7. Replaced Gressel in Tata’s first move shortly after the last goal. Tata was obviously looking for some offensive punch to close the game out, but Kratz was unable to find the opportunity to provide it.
SUB: Tyrone Mears – 6. Came on for Walkes after 81 minutes. Had 6 passes, all in the attacking half, but didn’t connect well enough on any of them.
SUB: Mikey Ambrose – N/A. Made a rare appearance replacing Asad, and was clearly ready to go. However, with only 2 official minutes, was unable to contribute anything useful.
COACH: Tata Martino – 7. As we have already noted, Tata took the blame for this one: “…the responsibility is all mine.”
TEAM COHESION: 9. Anton Walkes took the blame. Tata took it away from him. Josef was too upset to speak to the press after the draw despite his record-setting hat-trick. This is a team that lives and dies together, and it comes from the top down. And a draw wasn’t good enough for them. At this stage of the season, I take that as a very good sign.