Atlanta United, One Week Later, Repeats Their Performance With A 2-2 Draw At Nashville.
It was not exactly apples for apples, but last night's match with Nashville did have some of the same attributes, issues, and concerns as the game a week prior against New England. After staying awake way too long due to the three-hour weather delay, here are a few short takes on last night's battle in Nashville.
It is clear to me that both managers from Atlanta United and Nashville should be able to take video from last night's match and co-present at any coaching seminar held across the world. Yes, the seminar could cover a few topics with an underlying theme of "How Not To Give Up Points" or "Man-Marking In The Defensive Third." For the second consecutive game Atlanta players have checked off, or more appropriately checked out, resulting in soft goals by their opponents. Gary Smith had the same issue last night, with Joe Willis and Daniel Lovitz gifting Atlanta their two goals with costly mistakes.
Matteus Rossetto's poor decision to play a blind pass out of the back and the subsequent lack of transition defense. Franco Ibarra and Alex de John losing their mark, on the dangerous Hany Mukhtar, after Nashville's C. J. Sapong won a header at the back post. These are glaring mistakes that unfortunately have become systemic with Atlanta United. Last week it was Adam Buska, and last night it was Muktar. The Five Stripes' Gonzalo Pineda has to be frustrated and concerned as these mistakes have led his team to give up valuable points both at home and on the road.
Playing out of the back. Defensive and middle third turnovers. The lack of man-marking on both first and second balls. These issues are certainly correctable but Pineda must also reflect on his system and his player pool. While the attack is generating acceptable chances and shots on goal, there are definitely issues with Atlanta being able to play out of the back and break their opponent's pressure. Is this due to Pineda's system or is the quality of Atlanta's players suspect? My vote is Pineda's system though any system employed by Atlanta's manager cannot stop a player from making a very poor pass out of the back.
With all of the above said, Atlanta United's players have resolve. Last night, after trailing for most of the game, the Five Stripes, energized by substitutes Emerson Hyndman and Dom Dwyer, never quit. Sure, Daniel Lovitz going into dreamland certainly helped, but that 88th minute ball from Thiago Almada to Brooks Lennon was pure magic, resulting in the last-minute Dom Dwyer game-tying goal. The Five Stripes, with a little bit better decision-making and finishing, could have, and should have, escaped Nashville with three points.
Gonzalo Pineda, with no mid-week game, has another six days to take some corrective action. Atlanta is on sixteen points after 12 games, remaining in the middle of the Eastern Conference, five points from the bottom as well as five points from first place Philadelphia. The Five Stripes host Columbus Saturday night at Mercedes Benz Stadium - a match they again should earn three points from.
Gary Levitt @gary1123 justmytake.net
Photo credit: Dale Zanine, USA Today Sports