Thiago Almada's 72nd-Minute Goal Leads Atlanta United To A 1-0 Win Over Orlando.
Last night's result, in front of a rain-soaked Exploria Stadium crowd of 15,340, has Atlanta United within striking distance of the seventh-place Eastern conference playoff line. Three regular season games remain and the Five Stripes trail sixth-place Cincinnati and fifth-place Orlando by three points each. Here are few short takes on last night's game.
Atlanta manager Gonzalo Pineda's lineup replicated the same eleven that beat Toronto last Saturday night. Led by attacking midfielder Thiago Almada, Atlanta, for one of the first time this season, did not dominate possession. The key takeaway: Atlanta created many good chances and finished the match with 1.9 expected goals to Orlando's 1.3. The usual dominance with possession did not correlate with the result.
My unofficial statistics in the following category are a telling tale. For the last few games, I have tallied the number of times Atlanta loses possession in the defensive or middle third from a giveaway/turnover in the first ten minutes. Again, nothing official, but the Five Stripes have been punished early on in many matches within the first ten minutes. Last night, there was another positive outcome as my count had Atlanta, in the first ten minutes, only losing possession in the defensive or middle third one time. Trends are trends.
I am not an over-the-top metric analyst, but I do watch many games and always notice when a team is attacking, whether from a buildup or counterattack, how many players get into zones fourteen and seventeen. Atlanta has been repetitive with playing services into the front or back post with only one or two players in those zones. Last night was a bit different as many goal-scoring chances included a number of Atlanta players trying to get on the end of a cross or provide support with combination play. Case in point: Watch this video from the 2:40 mark and you will notice that Thiago Almada's goal is the result of a combination of decisive passing, skill, and most importantly players in between zones 14 and 17, giving Amada the chance to receive Andrew Gutman's pass, scan, and beat Orlando's Antonio Carlos and goalkeeper Pedro Gallese for the decisive goal. It is quite obvious that numbers in zones 17 and 14 do have a direct correlation to goal-scoring opportunities.
Atlanta's last three games start with Philadelphia at home this Saturday night, then a two-week break before traveling to New England, and then the regular season finale with NYCFC at home. It may take all nine points and some help from other Eastern Conference foes for Atlanta to reach the playoffs...and it all starts with the red-hot Union at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Gary Levitt @gary1123 www.justmytake.net
photo credit: AP