In a heartbreaking 3-2 loss, Atlanta United was not able to grab the 3 points on the road falling to FC Dallas, making them 0-2 in the Lone Star State.
After exhibiting very solid play for almost the entire match, Atlanta United was left stunned after being victims of FC Dallas Forward Tesho Akindele in the 86th minute and, again, in the 88th minute, allowing them to remain undefeated at home for 10 straight matches.
Atlanta United started off the match a bit rough. While they were trying to implement their normal Tiki-Taka style of play, FC Dallas kept possession almost as much as Atlanta did for a good period of time in the 1st half. So much so in fact, that “Los Toros” were able to win a corner kick and score in the 22nd minute to take the lead.
Atlanta was able to stay grounded after the set piece goal and finally found an opening in the 41st minute to tie things up. Tito Villalba made a streaking run to cut the Dallas defense and crossed the ball to Josef Martinez to do what he does best.
Martinez scored his 17th regular season goal and got his brace for the match in the 72nd minute with a pass from Almiron who was left surprisingly wide open across the middle of the goal post. With a quick turn and excellent through ball, Almiron connected with Martinez who sank the ball in the back of the net.
Even though Atlanta United was able to score twice, FC Dallas surprised spectators by coming out of their shell and started to send more players up the pitch to improve their attacking presence near the final minutes of the match.
Towards the end of the 1st half and throughout the 2nd half, FC Dallas’ gameplan was clear and simple: Park the bus and catch the Atlanta United players on the counter. Dallas continued to try this tactic but as the minutes were running out, the tempo became stifled and neither team seemed to be making any real progress.
The winning goal for Dallas happened largely due to miscommunication from one of the less experienced backline players, Miles Robinson. Robinson was originally marking Akindele and left his man unmarked in order to intercept a pass further back. Leaving Akindele unmarked proved to be a huge mistake since he then made a quick run in a wide space and Maximiliano Urruti was able to spot the run and connect the pass that led to the goal.
The concern isn’t with Robinson since mistakes are made regularly on the field and are natural occurrences in growth and development. Where Atlanta showed vulnerability was in counter attacking plays and communication between the backline. These are small kinks in the powerhouse that is Atlanta United and we still have time to iron these out before the start of the MLS playoffs.
The result wasn’t what we expected but with the need to prove a point, Atlanta will hold nothing back against the Philadelphia Union this Saturday.
Arturo Principe | @ArturoPrincipe1
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