Updated: Jul 28
There were a lot of positives to takeaway from this game as Pineda implemented lots of movement off the ball and we started playing long balls for our wingers to run onto, but there were also some negatives as we had trouble converting our chances and just let Toronto pass the ball up the field to Bernardeschi who you simply can't give space to shoot, even from outside the box. Outside of their goal, though, we had a decent defensive performance and we certainly looked the better team for long stretches, although all that really matters is the scoreline.
The use of long balls to get our wide players forward was one of the most important takeaways from this match. Over the course of the game Atlanta United played an astounding 30 accurate long balls with an almost equally impressive 70% completion rate. This was much of what led to the team's 9 accurate crosses, not very good considering they attempted over 35 with a 24% success rate. Despite the failures getting the ball back into the box this bodes well for the team. We have shown that we are capable of getting into really good positions out wide and now we just need to work on better balls back into the box, which should also be made easier when Giakoumakis gets more integrated with the team and you have a big physical guy in the box to cross to.
Araujo Mind Games
While there was certainly an improvement in Araujo's play this game compared to versus San Jose he still wasn't playing as well as you would like from one of your DPs. Part of what contributed to this was definitely mind games as after he missed the penalty against the Quakes he was clearly in his own head, and against Toronto he was quickly fouled a few times to open the game. This is similar to Pity Martinez who wouldn't play nearly as well if you roughed him up. Despite this he certainly had good points through out the game as he limited his shots from outside of the box and was able to move around to find free space really well, in addition to his chance created and 3 successful dribbles.
Rotations Around the Ball
This was really important to me as it changed how our attack looked in the first half and with some refinement could be really hard to defend against. I will go into the rotations I more detail in another article but basically when one of our wide players got on the ball either Luiz or Almada would drop back more into space which allowed Rossetto to push up onto the front line or the fullback make an inverted run inside, which allowed Brooks Lennon a great one-on-one chance which was saved by Sean Johnson before being deemed to be offsides.
In the second half, especially, Atlanta United didn't necessarily play a high press but when they did press the ball there were a number of successes. Giakoumakis also helped to press with his introduction. A number of times he was able to force poor passes and he almost got the ball off of Toronto left back Petretta before Nima Saghafi made another one of his questionable calls deeming it a foul. This press, though, will hopefully continue throughout the season as it can be dangerous and catch defenders off-guard.
Poor Counter Attacks
In a negative takeaway Atlanta United failed to capitalize on transitions, which when used effectively are the easiest times to score. Atlanta United needs to put more emphasis on quick counters and transitions when we win the ball because we saw numerous times a defensive player collect the ball and then slowly move the ball up the field, whether that is simply holding onto the ball until Toronto resets or playing it right to people's feet, rather than leading them which also slows the tempo and eliminates a chance to attack against an unset Toronto defense.