Austin FC shuts out Atlanta United before 67,516 at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Last night was quite the homecoming for Atlanta-area native Josh Wolff. His Austin FC team took advantage of mistakes by Atlanta United and went on to a 3-0 win. Wolff has to be wondering how his side had only four shots on goal that resulted in three goals. Gonzalo Pineda, Atlanta's manager, also has to be wondering how his team can have the majority of possession, shots on goal, key passes, and still get embarrassed at home.
While Pineda cannot be held accountable for the two mistakes that led to Austin's first two goals, you can point the finger at him regarding the overall tactics employed by the Five Stripes. Maybe it is time to change the shape and go to three center backs? Maybe it is time that Pineda realize that he does not have the quality of the Atlanta teams of 2017-2019? Most importantly, it is time for Pineda to bench players who are not getting the job done with all the little things that successful teams do game in and game out.
I live in Orlando and had marked on my calendar that this was one game I wanted to use my season tickets to attend. My schedule prevented me from getting to Atlanta for last night's game, and after watching that embarrassing display, I feel like I did not miss a thing. The ethos of this Club are broken, and certainly year-over-year has been fractured by the numerous injuries to key players.
In my last few write-ups, I have discussed Atlanta's front office and the good job they have done with building a solid player pool. I still feel the same though I do wonder about the pure production from all three designated players. Luis Araujo's pace and ability to beat defenders are great attributes, but does he have the maturity to impose his will game in and game out? In last week's column, I stated that with the remaining games and available points, Atlanta has a great opportunity to get the playoff line. I will not back off that prediction, even after last night's debacle, but there is no doubt Pineda must change the tactics, the shape, and to some degree the players.
Wednesday night, Atlanta welcomes Real Salt Lake to Mercedes Benz Stadium. A quick turnaround for Pineda to employ his changes, and no Luis Araujo, who is lost to yellow card accumulation. RSL sits third in the Western Conference and will be coming off a 2-2 draw with Colorado. Is this a must win for Atlanta United? What will the in-person (not announced) attendance be at Atlanta's home ground? How will the players react to the long post-game meeting Pineda hosted after last night's game? Big questions for a big midweek game.
Gary Levitt @gary1123 justmytake.net
photo credit: Yahoo Sports