Thoughts on ATLUTD's Early Start
1) Josef Martinez finds the net for the first time in 440 days as Atlanta United returns home with a point in a 1-1 draw against Inter Miami. The first half was all Atlanta, but the Five Stripes only came away with 1 goal. In response, the second half was all Miami, but Lewis Morgan's finish is the only in return. Tired legs on a hot day, a point is just fine. After a small percentage of the fan base speaking frustration in Josef's return from injury, even rumors being pushed out of the club looking for his future replacement, I knew there was no truth to this. Josef is finding his own comfortability before he pushes himself. Also, I think people need to look at the minimal touches he gets as more of his teammates not creating enough chances for him more than him not putting himself in enough positions to score. He is going to be just fine and he will be scoring plenty of goals this season.
2) The reason why Josef has been quiet is not because he's in poor form, but because opposing teams have the confidence to pack the middle and force Atlanta to beat them on the wings. After the Chicago Fire game and into the first half of the first leg in CCL quarterfinals, scoring opportunities have just not been there. After the injury to Ezequiel Barco, who has been Atlanta's second best player in the final third this season, the lack of wing depth is showing. A top team in MLS should not have to rely on Jake Mulraney every game to create chances. Erik Lopez, who is very young and new to the position out wide, has been quiet in his two starts. Moreno is more effective in the middle of the field as when he's on the left, he's more inverted anyways. I think the position that needs the most strength when the summer transfer window opens up is adding a natural scoring threat to the wing. Current Velez Sarsfield winger Lucas Janson is personally someone I would like to see as long as the money can fit and an international spot can be opened up.
3) I do think it's fair to question some adjustments manager Gabriel Heinze has made so far. He definitely has the team playing with more confidence over the 2020 campaign, but it is interesting to see some of the substitutions so far. Of course, injuries have been an issue as Barco, Jurgen Damm, Ronald Hernandez, Lisandro Lopez, Matheus Rossetto, and Mo Adams have all missed time for various reasons. Hernandez, who was looked in preseason to really challenge Brooks Lennon for the right back role, hasn't seen the field yet. Is he still recovering? He was on the bench yesterday, so why didn't we see him over Alex De John, who turned the ball over before Miami scored. Rossetto has been dealing with visa issues, but he will be competing with Emerson Hyndman, who has been one of Atlanta's best players this season, and Franco Ibarra, who brings a more aggressive style of play to the middle. If Rossetto can't earn consistent time in the middle, maybe he can push for time on the left flank, where he is a little familiar with as he found time there for Athletico Paranaense. Depth is needed to supply the team with scoring chances for all 90 minutes, let's not turn into only a first half team... let's get healthy
I think it is also noteworthy how exhausted Santiago Sosa looked Sunday; he hasn't missed a minute yet this season. He should be blamed for the tying goal as he was late to his mark and a careless drop pass almost led to another one. He will be the one most thankful for a full week of recovery as the work horse has been outstanding in the first month of the season. I said on the podcast last week that I would be more than happy with 4 points in our next two games, so let's rest up and pile on the goals against Montreal in The Benz Saturday!