Four Thoughts: Atlanta United let lead slip, lose 3-2 at Dallas

Atlanta United lets a late lead slip as it drops its second road game of the season.

Atlanta United need to be better organized in close-out situations

Atlanta United disappointingly let a late lead slip Wednesday night in Frisco, TX against an FC Dallas team that has remained unbeaten at home for nearly a calendar year. The collapse coincided with Tata Martino’s decision to add a third center back to the field, changing the system and the mentality of the team completely. At least, that’s how it should’ve worked. In the end, Robinson didn’t look confident or assured of his responsibility, and in fairness to him, his teammates were still pressing up the field as if the change in personnel and system had never happened. While Robinson and Parkhurst are primarily responsible for not dispossessing or even fouling Tesho Akindele prior to his 86th minute goal, they should not have been placed in the exposed position that forced them to make a play on the ball very high upfield.

We will never know what the breakdown was. Did players not clearly receive the message that they should drop deeper and let Dallas have the ball in its own half? Was there even a message to park the bus at all? Regardless, it’s a learning experience for the squad. It’s one of the first times this season that Atlanta has attempted to change from it’s high-pressing 4-2-3-1 to the very deep-lying 5-3-2, and clearly it caused some issues that lead to Dallas’ equalizer.

The last goal was even worse.

Will the result affect the team this weekend vs. Philadelphia?

Atlanta United players were understandably frustrated after the game with the way things played out in the last 10 minutes of Wednesday’s match. (Which is funny, because for my personal preference, I’d rather see the team play well and lose [in the regular-season] than to play like crap and pull out a result. I fully understand why a player would feel different. But I digress…) Just take a look at some of the quotes:

El Tata:

“I hope the loss doesn’t affect us for the next match. These kinds of losses hurt. They hurt the most when you don’t deserve to lose. When the opponents are better than you, it’s a different kind of feeling because you know that team outplayed you. You are able to accept that loss more even though it still hurts you.. In our case, we did everything we could to win but ended up leaving empty handed.”

Source: ATLUTD Quote Sheet

Julian Gressel:

“To give away a game like that is just frustrating. I don’t really know what to say. You do all this work in such a tough environment and such a tough climate, play a great 85 minutes…to give it away in those last five minutes is frustrating and, obviously, something we’ll learn from and have to be better, ultimately. It’s just frustrating and annoying right now.”

Source: ATLUTD Quote Sheet

Not great, Bob! The team will need to shake this feeling off quickly. Maybe it’s a blessing that the team has nothing to do but immediately start preparing for its game in Chester, PA on Saturday against the Union.

Josef will not get the credit he deserves for one of his most impressive goals

What a shame for Josef, who will never get the credit he deserves for his first half goal — one of his best ever scored for the Five Stripes. Honestly, Tito is the star of the play with the way he skinned Maynor Figueroa. But Josef’s movement and timing on his lunge to get his foot to the ball is incredibly precise.

Josef followed up that amazing first goal with an equally polished goal in the second half to give Atlanta the lead. Played in on his left foot by Miguel Almiron, Josef struck the ball first time on his weak foot and slotted it hard and accurately into the bottom left corner past Jesse Gonzalez. It’s amazing that Josef, according to Tata Martino, is still learning intricacies of playing as a central striker, having played as a wide forward with his last club Torino and the Venezuelan national team.

Josef Martinez is very much in single-season goal record territory

Josef Martinez added two more goals to his season tally Wednesday night, bringing him to 17 on the season. Atlanta United still has 15 games left for Josef to grab the 11 goals he needs to set a new single-season goalscoring record. For most players, that’s iffy, but Josef has averaged nearly a goal per game in his Atlanta United career. Also aiding Josef is the schedule Atlanta United faces going forward. With 15 games left, the next five are against non-playoff teams, and nine of its next 10 games are vs. non-playoff teams. This record is very much in play and barring injury, I’d even say it’s extremely likely that Martinez sets a new goalscoring mark in MLS (knocks on all the wood).