Updated: Jul 28
If you had to encapsulate Atlanta United in a single game that was it. The game saw Atlanta retain 72% possession and utterly dominate the opposition with stars Thiago Almada and Georgios Giakoumakis each scoring, the team was only let down by a series of poor defensive plays. Atlanta stayed true to themselves by letting in three soft goals to allow a thoroughly outplayed New England Revolution to steal a point at the Benz. Ignoring the defensive lapses for a minute, the team played very well and was the most dominant we have seen them in a while, it was just a pity they couldn't earn three points and move up in the East conference standings.
Designated Players Showing Their Worth
To stay in the happy headspace, both Thiago Almada and Georgios Giakoumakis performed really well this game and showed why they are worth those DP contracts. Unfortunately, the same can't really be said about Luiz Araujo who has never really got in his mojo since joining Atlanta from Ligue 1 side Lille. To go back to Almada and Gigi, they have both come in and immediately produced. In his first MLS season last year Thiago Almada won MLS rookie of the year, and last season Almada was nothing compared to this year. Gigi also hit the ground at a full sprint and the Greek international has now scored 9 goals in his first 12 appearances. It gets even better considering that in those 12 appearances, he has only actually been on the field for 678 minutes. He averages an astonishing 1.195 goals per 90 minutes. That is better than 12 MLS teams.
Since When Can Miguel Berry Do That?
I for one did not have a Miguel Berry half-volley from 25 yards out on my bingo card. The Spaniard has gotten a lot of stick recently for his goal-scoring record, or lack thereof, and, to be honest, it was deserved. Any striker who goes over 1,600 minutes without scoring needs to take a serious look at his game. That being said, that is a serious goal-of-the-season contender right there and maybe just seeing the ball go in once will open the floodgates for Miguel Berry. Gonzalo Pineda also has got to be a lot more smug about subbing off Gigi now.
Now to come back to reality Atlanta United didn't win, they really should have, and it was their own fault. None of the three goals should have happened and a lot of it was Brad Guzan's fault. I am a big Guz fan but conceding the earliest goal this season because you literally passed it to them is unacceptable. Miles Robinson did him no favors with the back pass but Guzan had to at least just boot it clear. The second goal was not his fault, it was awful defending. Brooks Lennon can't just let his man stand wide open on the wing. This is bound to be punished and it was. How is Emmanuel Boateng that far open on the left wing‽
The third goal wasn't great either. It is another one that you could see coming from a mile away. Andrew Gutman doesn't step up to his man and just like in the past the attacker takes the shot and scores. Atlanta needs to stop giving up easy shots and weak goals like this, especially those goals late in the game. (Also Brad Guzan really should have gotten there to cover his near post.)
Our Weird Baited Mid-Block Doesn't Work
My last major takeaway from the game was a tactical one, our weird baited mid-block thing doesn't work. Throughout a large portion of the game, Atlanta would do this thing where they have Gigi not press as much high up the field. Then when the Revolution tries to move the ball into the midfield, the idea was to collapse on their man and try to win the ball back in the middle of the field. All that happened, though, was that we let them bring the ball into their midfield without any real pressure, and then Noel Buck or whomever they passed the ball to in the midfield just passed the ball before they were effectively pressed. Overall this is a very minor complaint but I just found it weird and it was clearly ineffective.