The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
I'm very excited because there is so much good to cover.
First of course is Hany, with all 3 goals coming off of his actions, he was (again) our constant push on offense. And even though the Bunbury goal doesn't count as an assist; it was a direct result of Hany beating the defense and getting off a threatening shot. I'm not sure what it is about Atlanta that puts Hany in overdrive, but after Saturday's game, Hany has had 13 goal contributions in his 9 meetings with Atlanta.
I do need to highlight the goal by Bunbury more because this our first goal from a striker all season (not counting Open Cup). Bunbury was an issue for Atlanta this game with making runs and keeping their backline spread. Because of this, Hany was able to drive the ball forward and make plays. Maybe this could be the start of a nice streak of goals from Teal. (Also, Sapong finally scored but of course it wasn't for us!)
Won with only 34% of possession (we played our our game)
Maher & Zimmerman won every tackle they were apart of
6 shots with 4 on target (most accurate for the season)
Without the Pen we kept Atlanta to an xG of 0.65
Muyl & McCarty started and we only got 1 yellow
Shaffelburg was anything but bad this game. Making great touches on the ball while beating defenders on runs. What is bad is how he hasn't been starting. I'm sure there are facts we don't know but to start Muyl over Shaffelburg over and over is mind boggling to not only me, but most Nashville fans. There is a noticiable difference with the whole time as soon as Jacob Shaffelburg hits the field. His speed and stamina locks down his side of the field while giving an additional target to Hany (or sometimes Zimmerman with the long ball). So why does Gary Smith continue to start Muyl? Most popular opinion is Muyl "workforce" and "defense". However, Muyl was chastised by his teammates numerous times on Saturday for being out of place.
Another popular opinion was that Jacob was knocked pretty bad in Wednesday's Open Cup; but we did not see anything hindering his speed or performance Saturday. Whatever the reason may be, hopefully Jacob proved he should be a regular starter again.
I really don't want to sound like a broken record but the officiating in MLS is hindering the game. I'm happy to publish this admitting that Nashville had a lot of calls in their favor, and so did Atlanta. I can overlook that sometimes because referees are human. However, when they consistently change the pace of the game it is unacceptable. If a play falls (and it clearly isn't a head injury) then game keeps playing; especially if there is an offense building a counter attack. Because Pro Referees does this so often, players know it is a way to try to stop a threatening attack. MLS is spending a lot of money so maybe they'll start hiring better refs soon. (Also that was such a soft Pen)
Squad depth. I don't need to go into too much detail if you watched the San Antonio Open Cup game and then saw our subs for this game.
With Chicago as our next game and at home, I believe the Boys in Gold will continue this momentum and try to build off of what we saw on Saturday. Maybe even see Zimmerman drive it up the field and score a goal. Maybe see Bunbury get another goal. If we pass and play this season like we did Saturday, we'll make it further this year than we did last year and Teal can keep dancing.