Before the game, we were able to check with our site the sisters Dirty South Soccer and David McFarland to talk about the slow start of the Atlanta season, how their new coach is being placed, and so on. If you want to see our answers to his questions, you can find them here.
Q: What is Heinze’s early return? How are you doing? From a distance, he looks a little … weird.
Patience would always be important this season. No one expected Heinze and Atlanta United to hit the ground running and immediately jump back to the pre-de Boer heights. However, the first ten games of the Argentine era have been quite disappointing. The five strips are to blame for too many slow and snail games to keep a young coach’s enthusiasm alive.
The Atlanta attack is particularly anemic (we’ll move on to that later), but the defense hasn’t been stellar either. Atlanta took a couple of 2-0 lead in the 80th minute and have the 4th worst goals expected in the East. On paper, the return line looks much better than that, but there is a clear disconnect between what Heinze wants to see compared to what is actually happening on the field. This led Atlanta to take root in 10th place, coming July and far from challenging for any kind of trophy.
Miles Robinson and Santiago Sosa signed last winter and have been the only bright spots so far. Robinson’s defensive work has saved Five Stripes more times than I can count while Sosa’s ability to play balls is vital in midfield. One thing to keep an eye on for Saturday is how Chicago plans to cancel Sosa. He has not been as effective in recent weeks with the teams that marked him and Atlanta does not have a link between defense and midfield with Sosa on the outskirts.
Question: How is the crime being committed? The 5 strips have scored only 3 goals per season once, against the fire. Why is the rating not as strong as we thought it would be?
Not very good! Even with Josef Martinez again, the attack has not turned into anything close to its old levels. Josef is not even 100% and has only scored two goals so far. Even if it were to his advantage, Venezuela is not getting enough service to make a real impact. The biggest issue so far is a general inability to create chances from the open game. The five strips have been unable to conjure up anything from half the chances to the vague glances of the gate.
Atlanta often dominates possession, but too often it comes down to side and back passes instead of taking risks and trying to penetrate in the final third. The five strips have the second lowest goals expected in the East and have been closed in the last two games. The horrible attack statistics are partly due to the sub-players, but even Heinze’s tactics do not seem to stand. Both the team and the coach are far from finished products, however, I still hope Heinze does well with the right staff. But it seems more and more like this is not going to happen this year.
How is Atlanta planning to catch fire? How will they line up and how do you think the game will go?
The five tapes are a bit stenographic this weekend, but the good news is that Josef Martinez is back from international duty, along with right-back Ronald Hernandez. Franco Ibarra and Jurgen Damm, however, suffered injuries last week and are out.
I see five stripes lined up in 4-3-3 with Brad Guzan, George Bello, Anton Walkes, Miles Robinson and Brooks Lennon in the back line. Alan Franco will be the deepest point of midfield three, accompanied by Ezequiel Barco and Santiago Sosa. Marcelino Moreno and Erik Lopez will hold the wings, while Josef is the focal point of the attack.
As for a prediction, I will go with a poor 1-1 draw with goals from two strikers, Beric and Josef.