Atlanta United vs. FC Dallas Recap

Barco at Toyota Stadium
Barco at Toyota Stadium http://www.ajc.com

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.

Finishing Stronger

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

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a writer for ATLSportsHQ please DM Phil Veasley (@_ATLPhil) on Twitter or send a sample article to atlsportshq@gmail.com.

 

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Atlanta United vs. Portland Timbers Preview

Gonzalez-Pirez shielding an Attacker
Gonzalez-Pirez shielding an Attacker http://www.oregonlive.com

After falling short in the U.S. Open Cup to the Chicago Fire, Atlanta United get their flannel shirts ready to chop down the Timbers.

While Atlanta United remain in the number one spot in the Eastern Conference of the MLS, they’ll find themselves in a difficult match up with the Portland Timbers, who haven’t tasted defeat in their last 10 games and are currently 6th in the Western Conference. With their most dangerous piece, Diego Valeri, playing in the midfield, the chances the Timbers are able to create in a match is something to keep in mind.

Portland Possession

Atlanta United will be met with a team that enjoys orchestrating build up plays from possession almost as much as us and with Valeri as the conductor, the Portland Timbers have done so successfully throughout the regular season. Known as one of the most efficient finishers in the MLS, Valeri holds 6 goals under his belt and with the ball on his feet, he poses a threat as far out as the middle of the pitch.

Atlanta’s fast paced attack and style of play will have to go through Portland’s experienced midfield first. An important cog in their defensive midfield shape is Colombian midfielder, Diego Chara. While he isn’t particularly big in stature, Chara has a very high work rate and isn’t afraid to make challenges and recover lost balls. The seniority is definitely on Portland’s side and they’ll use their experience to their advantage as much as possible (drawing fouls, etc).

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How Does Atlanta United Add Up Without Almiron in the Equation?

Miguel Almiron
Miguel Almiron http://www.timesfreepress.com

This Wednesday, Supporters’ Shield contenders, Atlanta United (9-3-3), are looking to continue their 4-match undefeated streak in MAPFRE Stadium against the Columbus Crew SC (7-3-6).

The Crew have managed to string together impressive draws in their last few games, including a 2-2 draw in their match against the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup, which they ultimately lost in a penalty shootout. What’s more impressive, however, is Columbus’ ability to stay competitive throughout the match. There hasn’t been a true moment in any match this season where the Columbus Crew has been decisively outmatched or have not been favorites. The Columbus Crew SC are currently sitting comfortably in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference standings, only 1 point away from 2nd which is occupied by New York City FC, and 3 points away from 1st place.

No Almiron, No Party

Although it’s not guaranteed that he’ll be out for sure, the big news coming into this week’s match is the possible absence of Miguel Almiron due to a shoulder injury that he incurred last Saturday in the match against New York City FC.

So just how does Atlanta United add up without their popular playmaker on the pitch? Let’s take a look back at the other times Atlanta has stepped on the field without “Miggy.”

Bring in the Rookie of the Year

Last year, Miguel Almiron missed 3 matches due to a left hamstring injury. This injury caused Almiron to miss not only 3 regular season matches during the months of September and October but it also stopped him from playing the final 2 CONMEBOL (South American) World Cup Qualifying matches. During this time, Atlanta United’s go-to options for these 3 matches to replace Almiron was Tito Villalba and Julian Gressel. In these matches, Atlanta United only lost once, to Minnesota United FC, in a very close game. There’s no reason to worry, though. While Gressel was filling in for Miguel Almiron, he solidified his case for Rookie of the Year and racked up 2 goals in 3 appearances.

E-Z as Ezequiel

Another option that Atlanta United has that they did not have available last year is Ezequiel Barco. Barco has more than proved his MLS record breaking transfer fee with flashy skills and quick plays that make him almost impossible to mark if you’re on the opposing team. It’s no secret that Barco has become a danger man and a player to keep all eyes on, all the time. With everyone’s eyes on Barco, he can spread the field to the wide areas of the pitch and serve the ball forward. As a playmaker, Barco’s attacking aggressiveness can also set the tone for the other players on the field.

There’s no doubt that Columbus will be looking to take advantage of the fact that Atlanta is Miggy-less, but if the U. S. Open Cup last week taught us anything, it’s that Atlanta United has players with diverse qualities and skills, both on the field and on the bench, so we’ll more than hold our own.

 

Arturo Principe | @ArturoPrincipe1

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a writer for ATLSportsHQ please DM Phil Veasley (@_ATLPhil) on Twitter or send a sample article to atlsportshq@gmail.com.

Atlanta United: Tip the Cap

((Photo: Courtesy of Atlanta United)

This week, Atlanta United FC faces off against the Vancouver Whitecaps who have accrued 6 points in the last two games, winning both of them by relying on carefully thought out set pieces and fast-paced counter attacks. Atlanta United is also coming off of a big win against D.C. United March 11th, thanks to goals from Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, and Tito Villalba, all three players of South American nationality (Paraguay, Venezuela, Argentina, respectively). With the recent influx of South American players transferring to the MLS in the previous years, it is not surprising that these players have encountered each other on a different, much bigger platform. The road to World Cup Russia 2018.

One of the masterminds behind the arrangement of the set pieces in the Whitecaps roster is Yordy Reyna. The Peruvian international was recently called up to represent his country in the World Cup and has racked up 6 goals as a Midfielder the previous season for the Caps. Qualifying in the South America group stage means that Peru’s squad has had to have favorable outcomes with the “bigs” in the world of soccer such as Brazil and Argentina. Not to mention, two other countries in their group stage are Venezuela and Paraguay, both of which Almiron and Martinez were called up for to play matches against Peru. More importantly, both of which did not qualify in this year’s World Cup.

With Reyna’s momentum, both with his club team and national squad, one can only imagine that this key player’s confidence is at an all time high. However, with Head Coach Tata Martino’s most recent lineup formation change (3-5-2) there is a clear emphasis on midfield possession, which will help slow down the Whitecaps’ likelihood of counter attacks or any type of fast breaks. Atlanta United is known for their passing and up tempo playmaking and the 3-5-2 formation allows players like Julian Gressel and Darlington Nagbe to feed the ball up to Martinez or Villalba to have shots on goal.

Another definite factor working for Atlanta United is the advantage of playing at home with the entire fanbase of Georgia surrounding them. Having recently broken the previous MLS record, also set by Atlanta United, March 11, 2018, at the match against D.C. United with a jaw dropping 72,035 in attendance. The fans and environment will play a crucial factor in Atlanta United’s attitude throughout the match.

With these moving parts all in mind, Atlanta United will face the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday, March 17th at the Mercedes Benz Stadium and, while nothing is guaranteed, the matchup between these two high quality teams is sure to be great entertainment.