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Atlanta United - On The Brink.

Josef Martinez's Early Magic Not Enough To Hold Off Orlando City.


Before a crowd of over 18,000 at Orlando's Exploria Stadium, Orlando came back to beat Atlanta United 3-2. Here are my top of mind takes from last night:

  • Josef Martinez loves playing in Orlando, in front of OCSC's loud and hostile crowd. It was no different last night as he magically finished from outside the eighteen less than a minute into the game. Marcelino Moreno also scored in the run of play with a wonderful strike that went upper 90. Great for both as Josef badly needed to score any way possible, and Moreno, after a tremendous game, awarded himself with a highlight-reel goal.

  • The $800,000 annual salary paid out to Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan looks a bit suspect after watching backup Alec Kann's performance last night. The game might have been 4-1 at halftime if not for Kann's great saves. I am a fan of Guzan, but money does talk.

  • Most of the reason behind Kann having to make six saves last night was due to Atlanta's systemic ball-watching. Time after time, Orlando's off the ball runs were not tracked by Atlanta -something that seems to haunt the Five Stripes game after game. Santiago Sosa losing Nani in the waning moments of a game is simply not acceptable at any level, especially when you have a chance to grab a point on the road.

  • Along with the ball-watching, someone please explain to me what Atlanta's interim manager, Rob Valentino, was thinking with his starting eleven? Does videotape and Valentino's knowledge of Ruan's speed not dictate that Atlanta's defender on their left side need a great deal of pace? I have nothing against Mikey Ambrose, he is professional as they come, but over 30 yards I may still have more pace than him. (Ok, that is total BS on my part). Valentino made the necessary changes at halftime but oh my, what a strange decision to start off the game.

  • I will mention this topic again. Benchmarking is a term that makes comparisons between entities, products, and sometimes people. With respect to injuries and players away on international duty, benchmark Atlanta United's player pool against Orlando City. I know the injuries are difficult to manage, but Carlos Bocanegra knew what the Five Stripes were facing with players away for WC qualifying, Copa America, and the Gold Cup. I don't care how many minutes Miles Robinson and George Bello play tomorrow night in the Gold Cup final...and I really don't care about the enigma-boy, Ezequiel Barco, having to travel back from Japan. All three better be ready to play some minutes Wednesday night in Montreal. They actually do get paid very well to perform - so perform.

  • Almost halfway done with the season, the Five Stripes sit at 2-6-8, with games Wednesday night in Montreal and Saturday in Columbus. The tipping point to the playoffs is on the brink unless Atlanta takes four points from these two games. Amazing to realize at the halfway point of the season, Atlanta may find itself outside of playoff contention.

It is just my take, what is yours? @gary1123

Photo credit: Orlando Sentinel


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