Updated: Jul 28
Atlanta United fell 4-3 to Mexican side Toluca last night in the second installment of the American Family Insurance Cup. It saw a much improved Luiz Araujo, a sloppy defense, and a host of up-and-coming players getting more experience. The game was exciting from the start with some missed chances early in the game but improved after the first ten minutes as the 7 goal thriller eventually saw goals from Brooks Lennon, Luiz Araujo, and Luke Brennan for Atlanta United and goals from Ivan Lopez, a banger from Sebastian Saucedo, a lucky deflection for Maxi Araujo, and lastly a winner from Camilo Sanvezzo. This capped a poor defensive display but one that also had some major bright points.(The halftime kit reveal was also very well done LASERS!)
A More Fluent Attack
Likely the best takeaway from the game was the much improved attack. Last season Luiz Araujo took more shots from outside the box than anyone else in the league, not a good thing, but in this game he made multiple good runs into the box and scored off of one of them. He wasn't the only bright point, though, as Thiago Almada played well and was on the ball a lot in attack as he slid side to side to provide an option for our wingers. From there we played guys in behind the backline with clinical through balls which led to the Brooks Lennon goal. We also saw a successful high press, especially after losing the ball, trapping Toluca in a corner after we lose the ball, which I am very excited to see as it worked most of the time as we were able to win back the ball from errant pressured passes.
A Sloppy Defense
A major storyline so far in Atlanta's preseason tour has been the failure of our defense, and unfortunately this game was no different. There were a number of failings throughout the game. Firstly, Clement Diop played the second half for us and looked totally lost in both goals, the deflection was unfortunate but he did not handle the one-on-one well at all. Additionally, the one-on-one shouldn't have been allowed to happen so easily. We played a high line to allow us to press, but then got totally owned by a single ball over the top and the striker had lots of time to round the keeper and score. Finally, we got totally outmuscled aerially, and not just outmuscled but we didn't even really jump for the cross which almost let Toluca convert off of their crosses multiple times.
Playing Time for the Youngsters
This game was rightly used as a game to see some of our prospects play. We subbed off the entire team, except for Noah Cobb and substitute Jackson Conway, at half time. This allowed us to see many young players against a really good team and many of them stepped up. Ajani Fortune played really well, including a number of good long passes and an assist, before being subbed off for David Mejia. A familiar face also had a good second half, as Aiden McFadden got up and down the wing well and put in the ball that Fortune headed on for Luke Brennan, who converted well. This should create a lot of hope for the future because as a whole the youngsters played well.