Atlanta United lost their first game on home turf in nearly a year and now it has the team searching for what’s going wrong.
The Five Stripes had another lackluster showing on the scoreboard in a 2-1 loss against FC Dallas on Saturday.
The league’s worst attack only found one goal on the afternoon and it came in the dying minutes of stoppage time on a penalty that came thanks to VAR, but they did have quite a few opportunities. They had 22 shots on the night and many were quality efforts, including a pair of shots off the post from Ezequiel Barco.
“It’s a very frustrating game for us,” Barco said after the match. “I think we did an excellent job. After they scored a goal in the first six minutes, the game was all ours. We were attacking from all sides. We arrived on goal 200 times.
“Their goalkeeper saved I don’t know how many shots. It’s one of those games where the ball doesn’t want to go in and we can’t find the why, but in general lines, I think we did an excellent job.”
It was actually a strong attacking performance, possibly the best Atlanta has had on the young season. They certainly had more shots than any other game this year, as well as the second most possession. They outplayed Dallas in many ways, but the lack of a goal from open play doesn’t sit well with anyone on the team, for obvious reasons.
“The truth is we’re leaving with a bitter taste in our mouth because it’s always important to win at home,” Barco said, “for us to keep gaining confidence and for the fans who are a little disappointed when we don’t win.”
Atlanta is now winless in three tries at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in MLS play this year.
While the performances keep looking better, they aren’t getting the results they need in order to defend their MLS Cup title. They have plenty of excuses, should they want to use them.
They are learning a new system under Frank de Boer, they lost Miguel Almiron, who was too good for MLS, and they played in some interesting weather early on in the year. But playing indoors in their tenth competitive match in all competitions should be enough to set those aside.
There doesn’t seem like much else for Atlanta to do. Maybe it’s bad luck and things will regress to the mean. But, according to Barco, the team is doing everything it wants to, except actually get wins.
“It seems to me like today we had everything,” he said. “If you pay attention to the game we had pressure, intensity, chances on goal, they weren’t getting on our goal. I think they had two and a half chances and they scored two goals. I think we’re missing a little bit of luck that we haven’t had this year in games.”
Atlanta will have the perfect opportunity to get a victory next week when the struggling Colorado Rapids come to town. They’re the owners of the worst defense in MLS with 23 goals conceded. If Atlanta can’t score in that one, then they really need to do some soul searching.