As a neutral viewer Atlanta United vs Chicago fire on Saturday night provided information on typical MLS entertainment after dark. Red cards given to probably the wrong player, other red cards given for no reason, a hometown guy in the visiting team as captain and goal scorer, and chaos around the boxes to see both teams tied 3-3.
As an Atlanta fan, this feels like another wasted opportunity for three-pointers on the road, especially considering Chicago played the man for nearly half the game. Instead, two entirely avoidable goals gave Chicago a 2–1 lead after Atlanta hit first from a Thiago Almada free kick that Andrew Gutman was able to hit home. Giorgos Giakoumakis came on at half-time to help the Five Stripes take the lead with two goals to make it 3-2, but a short second yellow from Luiz Araujo leveled the game to 10-for-10.
Atlanta was unable to hold on to the lead and conceded a late goal to tie the game. Chicago celebrated it as a victory, Atlanta definitely saw it as a defeat. The result keeps Atlanta in a tight fourth spot, but one can only hope these simple concessions and inability to watch games don’t come back to haunt them later in the season. Needless to say, Gonzalo Pineda had a lot to say about the game in his press conference as the team leaves one of the busiest weeks of the season before heading home to prepare for the trip to Orlando. Take a look below and leave us your thoughts.
Atlanta United coach Gonzalo Pineda:
What was the message for the team
“Obviously upset with the result. I felt we were managing a good situation, one man up. Then back again and giving up soft targets. Three goals are soft. And then suddenly we win with one player and then a red card for Luiz. Is it a good phone? We’ll see. I don’t know, promising attack. It’s not cynical. It’s not a promising attack for me, so I don’t know what the call was for. Of course they put pressure on us. They bring two nines. They end up tied at the end. In my opinion, we couldn’t punish them when we had good chances. We had some good chances and couldn’t finish it off. And we give away soft goals, which I’m not happy with.
About Chicago’s first goal and whether anyone was leading the first post
“Yes, Ronald is always in charge of it, but we have certain moves, certain things that we are working on and trying to protect. But it was certainly a good punch from Shaqiri, but in my opinion we have to save him.
On Chicago’s second goal and the lack of a defender to close Shaqiri
“Yes, of course, and that came from a throw-in, and we’re not ready for that throw-in. And then it’s that simple. It’s so simple. A throw-in, a long substitution, received with the chest in the penalty area, without any pressure, and then without closing the opponent, without blocking shots, which is something we write about a lot. Yes, frustrated with this. The third, a cross to the far post, is a small deviation to the near post and not winning these duels. Again, it seems too easy. It seems like we really need to make good plays, good plays to score goals, but it seems like we’re just conceding soft goals so we need to consolidate that. Again, not blaming anyone. No defender, goalkeeper or midfielder. That’s everyone, top to bottom. Reactions, transitions, can we punish them at these moments and kill the game. That’s three different goals with one man. Can we have this mentality, this killer mentality, especially away from home, especially with one player. It’s something we have to think about, watch the video and then tell the players how to react in these moments on the pitch.
Atlanta United defender Andrew Gutman
About the mental strength of the team and how to develop it in the middle of the season
“It’s like sinking or swimming. If we don’t develop it, it will turn into something like last year. But like I said, there are guys in the dressing room who are aware of what’s going on, who are willing and aware to change, and I think we’re going to change. We are the top team in this league. I think we scored the most goals in the league… (Doug Roberson – “You allowed the most too”) Yes, but that’s something we can work on and the season is still early. You’re right, we have more veterans on this team this year and I think that will get us through this tricky patch.
About his goal and if that was a game they were working on
“In the right place at the right time. I had a feeling Thiago could be back in the post. And every time you go back to the post the only thing a goalkeeper can do with the way he hits is a little push so I just tried set up there and it fell on me and I just had to tap it in.
Atlanta’s second goal
– Yes, we talked about it at halftime. The second post was open so I tried to get into that position every chance I got and Ronald played great ball and GG just scores for fun so it was the right place, the right time for him.