The Eastern Conference Race To The Playoff Line.
There has been a remarkable improvement with Atlanta United's results since Darren Eales fired former manager Gabriel Heinze. Interim manager Rob Valentino and new manager Gonzalo Pineda have taken unleashed way more latitude for their players to open up the game, get forward, and create way more chances than Heinze's stagnating tactics. Another international break and maybe some welcome time off for most of the Five Stripes players (George Bello and Miles Robinson were called up for the October 7 - 13 WC qualifiers), giving Pineda some needed time with his players to work on both the attack, especially in Zone 14, as well as tactics in their defensive third. What I would like to see in these last six regular season games:
George Bello - the good: your ability to join the attack and put the opposition under pressure with your off-the-ball runs. The not so good: your decision-making with your final ball. It has to be better - over the last three games you have made the wrong decision with taking a shot with Josef Martinez unmarked on the penalty spot.
Play faster boys - the ball moves way faster than you do and there are too many times that instead of playing the quick and simple positive pass, players keep their dribble, and run into two to three opposing defenders. I understand what Marcelino Moreno is capable of, but those incredible runs just don't turn out well often enough.
Gonzalo Pineda - unleash Luiz Araujo even more that you have. He is much better playing in a reverse role on the right side or playing in the middle to collect that first or second ball. Keep that successful rotation of players going, including Josef Martinez, who needs this 12-day break more than anyone.
Atlanta, with six games remaining, sits on 39 points in 8th place with D.C. United, NYCFC, and Montreal all on 40 points. Atlanta next visits Toronto after this international break - you would hope that is three points for the taking.
That is my take. What is your's? @gary1123 justmytake.net
Photo credit: Dirty South Soccer