My Take On Atlanta United's 2-2 Draw With Nashville SC.
Including the roof being open on a beautiful afternoon at Mercedes Benz Stadium, a few good things came out of yesterday's match:
Atlanta's Miles Robinson, known for his superb one on one defending, decided he was the second coming of Paolo Maldini and dazzled the 40,700 fans with his passing, including three balls over 40 yards that immediately led to very good chances for the Five Stripes.
Erik Lopez finally hit his stride using his pace and work rate. His efforts resulted in his first goal for Atlanta off some good work from Marcelino Moreno and George Bello.
Direct play. Something that had gone by the wayside under manager Gabriel Heinze was welcome yesterday as the long, direct ball sometimes put Nashville at a numerical disadvantage.
81 minutes - the Five Stripes dominated Nashville with pace, possession, and high pressure. Most importantly, Atlanta got players forward and into that all important zone 14 at the top of Nashville's 18-yard box. Another welcome sight.
The obvious downside to yesterday's match is Nashville manager Gary Smith outcoaching Atlanta's Gabriel Heinze. Smith's substitution and subsequent change of their attacking shape marginalized Atlanta's Santiago Sosa. Until Smith made that substitution that included the always dangerous C.J. Sapong, Sosa literally marked Nashville's Hany Mukhtar out of the game. When Sapong came on, Smith moved Mukhtar over to the left side, moving him away from Sosa who stayed central to support Miles Robinson and Anton Walkes. The tactic played out as Mukhtar found plenty of space to operate and made the most of his chances.
Yes, Heinze was left in the dust by Smith. Why, with a pending three-week international break, did Heinze find it necessary to have Ezequiel Barco enter the game? Why not give your side more of a defensive posture and kill the game off by adding another defender instead of Barco? Why go away from the "box and one" defense that allowed Sosa to man-mark Mukhtar? Mukhtar's two goals to tie the game late were a product of Smith's tactical change that in no way was answered by Heinze. Poor tactics and substitutions by Atlanta's manager that resulted in a home draw that really does feel like a loss.
It is just my take. @gary1123 justmytake.net