The playoff race has tightened in the eastern conference after Atlanta United fell to CF Montreal 2-1 at the Stade Saputo. Luíz Araújo connected with Jake Mulraney to break the deadlock in the second half. Romell Quioto immediately responded with two goals in six minutes to seal the victory for CF Montreal.
Atlanta United was aiming for a victory and collecting three points before the two week break that awaits them. After tonight’s loss, CF Montreal will leapfrog them in the eastern conference standings and better their positioning for the upcoming playoffs. Miles Robinson, George Bello, Ronald Hernández, and Machop Chol will be leaving to go represent their national teams.
One thing Atlanta United is going to have to work on is breaking down the loaded box. When teams hunker down in their defensive third or “park the bus” as some put it, it makes it hard for any team to attack, but it seems to full neutralize the five stripes. Teams have taken notice how well it works and I’m starting to see a theme develop over time.
In the 48th minute, Atlanta United was on a counterattack with players pushing forward. The two fresh substitutes, Luíz Araújo and Jake Mulraney, were press in attack. Araújo laid the ball off to a pacing Jake Mulraney who beat the keeper to put Atlanta up 1-0.
Almost immediately, CF Montreal’s Romell Quioto pushed upfield and dribbled to the right goal post. Slowly approaching Brad Guzan, Quioto went near post and high, above Guzan’s head and in to deadlock the match 1-1. Just a few minutes later, a penalty was given for a tackle in the box by Anton Walkes. Quioto converted the penalty and basically played keep away the final thirty minutes.
After the match, coach Gonzalo Pineda, Brooks Lennon, and Jake Mulraney were asked repeatedly about why they can’t manage the full 90 minutes and how the attack falls off if Josef Martinez gets subbed.
“I thought we played very well the first 45 minutes,” Brooks Lennon explained. “The energy was there but, like you said, managing after we go up 1-0… We can’t let up a few minutes later to let it be 1-1, especially on the road. Maybe we need to bunker in a little bit and wait for the counter.”
Both Pineda and Mulraney defended the squad when asked about the lack of goals and attack. “Nobody was asking about that when we scored 10 goals across three matches,” said Pineda of their three-match winning streak a few weeks ago. “That’s just football,” followed Mulraney. He also noted that when they played other teams with a false 9 and scored three goals that nobody asked about their formation.
Whether they’d like to admit it or not, the attack falls off dramatically when Martinez isn’t on the field. They’re going to have to work on other formations and tactics because the Venezuelan is still rehabbing is knee and isn’t quite 100% yet.
The international break begins next week so the five stripes will have some time off. They’ll return to action Oct. 16 to face Toronto FC at BMO field.
Photo: Courtesy of ATL UTD