Atlanta United looked to be heading for one of their biggest wins of the young Gabriel Heinze era — and then Jakob Glenses happened. Here's my attempt to make sense of a wild 2-2 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sunday.

Gotta cover Glesnes

He did it again.

Advertising

I don’t think there’s a better leg in Major League Soccer right now. Between his goal today and his goal last season against LAFC, Jakob Glesnes clearly has hate in his heart for the soccer ball.

"We pride ourselves in being an analytical club. Highly involved in analytics. But sometimes the expected goals get thrown completely out the window when a player makes a play like Jakob Glesnes did tonight," Philadelphia head ocach Jim Curtin said afterward.

That being said, you can’t give him the space he needs to act on that hate. LAFC had no choice. That was a free kick. Atlanta on the other hand…

Which leads to...

The most dangerous lead in soccer

I felt set to say a lot of nice things about Atlanta not coming out flat in their first game back since Emerson Hyndman’s injury and in their first game in a while without Josef Martinez. But for the second-straight game, Atlanta United blew a 2-0 lead late at home. The first, against Nashville, seemed pretty easy to dismiss. Things happen. The equalizing goal came when a deflection fell right to Hany Mukhtar and he finished. The equalizing goal tonight came when Glesnes scored a sure-fire AT&T Goal of the Week winner. 

However, the first goal against Nashville came when Atlanta got caught flat-footed in the box and Mukhtar had an easy finish. The first goal against Philadelphia came when Philadelphia found space in Zone 14 for a shot and Cory Burke easily beat everyone to the rebound. Those are preventable. And they let teams back into the game so that the fluky goals can matter. That’s not good enough. This team will need to learn how to close out games and simply survive through the second half against good teams if they want to make a considerable impact in the standings going forward.

Advertising

“We’re obviously very very disappointed to not get three points tonight. But when you’re looking at from a higher lens I think the performance was good,” Brooks Lennon said after the game. 

That’s true in some ways. Atlanta came out with intensity and a few good to really good ideas about how to find space against Philadelphia’s diamond. However, Atlanta got a gift of an own goal and then routinely failed to create legitimate chances in transition. When you get a gift like that you have to capitalize. 

You especially have to capitalize if you make the move to change formations deep into the game. Everything under Heinze is positional and fluid in a lot of ways. Positions in a set formation are more like a suggestion than a requirement. Players interchange all the time. But when you make a change like bringing in a third center back deep into the game, you do take a risk.

Alan Franco came in, got charged with setting the line in a game he hadn’t been a part of, and Atlanta got torched. First, could just be a coincidence. Soccer is hard. Things happen. Second, we can all probably agree that when you’re heralded DP center back comes in and things get worse defensively that something less than positive has occurred.

Atlanta have been put in the strange position of having a DP center back that has been someone redundant considering the general play of Anton Walkes and Miles Robinson. It’s understandable to want to get Franco in. It’s just not encouraging to see things fall apart shortly after you do. 

The bottom line is Atlanta had a chance at revenge and three points against one of the conference’s best teams and didn’t get the job done in the exact same manner they failed to get the job done in the last game. They have to learn from the mistake this time.

Rubix Cubo

No idea if that headline makes sense but I went for it. Because Atlanta need to figure out what to do with Cubo Torres and they’re finding it difficult. The answer seems to be “seek other options” but, once again, Torres failed to meaningly contribute. 

To say he played badly probably isn’t accurate. He just didn’t play meaningfully. No one is asking him to be Josef. But he’s played 17 games for Atlanta and has only scored once. It felt indicative of a lot of things when Brooks Lennon played an excellent cross in the fourth minute that came directly to Torres from eight yards out and the ball simply bounced harmlessly off Torres’ face. 

While Josef is gone, there should be a bit of exploration. Maybe try Jackson Conway, the young homegrown? Maybe try Erik Lopez as a central striker with Ezequiel Barco and Jake Mulraney on the wing? Maybe find a galaxy-brained false nine to put out there? Try something. Torres leading the line simply didn’t and probably won’t have enough bite.

There were far more takeaways for Atlanta this week. Philly should have probably played a little better. The thing is though, they’re just a great team out here doing great team things like coming back from 2-0. There’s not much more to say. Except that it looks like another point for Jim Curtin over Gabriel Heinze.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising