The Five Stripes Attack Is Starting To Hit On All Cylinders.
The announced crowd of 42,515 at Mercedes Benz Stadium witnessed a taste of the good and the bad yesterday against Bruce Arena's New England Revolution. Two great goals along with two glaring mistakes earned Atlanta a point a home. Two more points given up in a game Atlanta should have won. Here are my short takes from yesterday's match.
The Good: There is no doubt that Atlanta's 'fab four' of Marcelino Morena, Luis Araujo, Ronaldo Cisneros, and Thiago Almada are having their way in the attack. Eight goals in the past three games in all competitions, along with the twenty-six shots taken yesterday, give us some insight into their quality and speed of play. Araujo's pace, with and without the ball, is eye-opening, and Almada has now taken the role of the midfield engine who has the prowess to finish. Both Atlanta goals, by Almada and Araujo, are definitely highlight reel material.
The Bad: I like Alan Franco. He is a very solid defender, good in the air, wins 50/50 balls, and is good with his distribution out of the back. What he is not good at is defensive third decision-making. If part of your game plan is to deny New England's Adam Buska chances, and you give him very good chances in the match, you have not done your job well. Yes, Atlanta's goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth should have done much better with Buska's first goal, but Franco must do a bit better with one-on-one confrontations. Franco's mental mistake on Buska's second goal is unacceptable as he both failed to man-mark and step up, leaving Buska to finish an easy chance inside six yards. Franco must learn from this game, regain his tactical awareness, and help his teammates manage the match better. He will.
Kudos to the double pivot of Matheus Rossetto and Franco Ibarra. Tough into tackles, a never-ending work rate, and very good distribution are the qualities these two midfielders continue to show in every game. They both are very important to Atlanta, allowing the 'Fab Four' of Almada, Araujo, Moreno, and Cisneros to attack at will. Did anyone else notice that the Revolution's always dangerous 2021 MLS MVP, Carles Gil, basically disappeared in yesterday's match? That was due to an Atlanta team effort and specifically the work Rossetto and Ibarra put into yesterday's game.
The Five Stripes are in the middle of the Eastern Conference table, and after a third of the way through the 2022 season, sit on 15 points with a 4-3-4 record. They are away to Nashville on Saturday night in a nationally televised match from the new GEODIS Park. Though playing away, Atlanta will enjoy a few days off while Nashville must play a mid-week game with red-hot Montreal.
Gary Levitt @gary1123 justmytake.net
photo credit: Dale Zanine USA Today Sports