Another visit to Harrison, New Jersey without a result. Here are my short takes on last night's 2-1 loss to New York Red Bulls.
There are many positives to take from an unfortunate loss to NYRB last night, but the result puts Atlanta United in the position of taking no points in this tough three-game road trip.
Gonzalo Pineda surprised me. He adjusted the shape and starting lineup to deal with NYRB's usual relentless pressure, going with a 3-5-2 and using Luis Araujo and Ronaldo Cisneros on top. The shape and tactics worked, as Pineda took a page from John Wooden playbook on how to beat the full-court press.
Atlanta United finally scored a goal in New Jersey. That sounds a bit bizarre but Josef Martinez's 75th minute goal was the first goal scored by Atlanta United in Red Bull Arena - ever.
Reinforcements cannot come too soon. Thiago Almada returns from a three-game suspension and is available on Sunday against NYCFC, and Juanjo Purata and Raul Gudino are eligible to play starting with the home match on July 9 versus Austin.
I feel strongly that Pineda should stick with the 3-5-2. That shape allows both wing backs (Aiden McFadden and Caleb Wiley) to get forward in the attack and provides a formidable counter-attacking option with Cisneros and Martinez on top. The Five Stripes, until the eightieth minute, looked confident and strong on the ball, going forward, and controlling the midfield.
After sixteen matches, Atlanta is on nineteen points and sits in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. They do have a game in hand, and those points to earn over the second half of the season could be pivotal in earning a playoff spot. The Five Stripes have won only two of their last ten league games - can they at least salvage a point on Sunday afternoon in the house that Ruth built?
Gary Levitt @gl1123 justmytake.net
photo credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United