4. Passing was atrocious
Atlanta struggled in the first half with its passing. They consistently gave the ball away in both the middle third and defensive third. If Philadelphia capitalized on Atlanta’s bad passing, they could’ve scored three goals by halftime.
There are many possibilities as to why Atlanta struggled with its passing. The team looked tired and sluggish on their feet. Most passes seemed slower than usual and players looked like they weren’t on the same page. Plus, the team was still dealing with their collapsing loss in Dallas on Wednesday night.
Philadelphia’s high press also seemed to shake Atlanta. The Five Stripes were clearly trying to build up play out of the back and hold possession, but the Union’s high press virtually stopped that from happening. The high press, combined with Atlanta’s unconfident passing, meant there was a lot of tracking back and extra energy by the Five Stripes defense.
Passing improved as the night progressed, and superb passing led to both of Atlanta’s goals. On this play, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez sends the perfect pass down the field for Miguel Almiron. Almiron nearly gets in on goal but is taken down in the box, leading to Atlanta’s first goal on the night. On this play, there are perfect passes from Atlanta’s four-headed South American attack: Ezequiel Barco finds Almiron, Almiron passes to Martinez, Martinez lays it back off to Almiron, who finds a wide open Hector Villalba for the game clinching goal.