4. Inability to overcome injury, difficulty
It seemed like injuries finally caught up to Atlanta United, but not in the ways you’d expect. Chris McCann picked up some sort of leg muscle injury in the 28th minute and had to sub off, allowing Greg Garza to log his first minutes since May 20. The team played yet again without Almiron, and Hector Villalba didn’t make his way into the game until the start of the second half.
McCann’s injury was a big blow because he started the match at left back. Although Garza is preferred at that position, he is not fully fit and McCann has more chemistry with the team after playing most of the season in that spot.
Almiron’s absence has already been noted and analyzed, but Villalba’s importance to the team has not. He is one of the team’s fastest players, and because he is a goal scoring threat, he either scores, assists on a score, or draws the opposition away from other Atlanta players, creating space in the run of play. Although he was unable to impact the game on Sunday, a full week of training with the team should result in a start in the next playoff game and increased team chemistry.
Atlanta is unable to overcome difficulty. What I mean is, when things don’t go Atlanta’s way, they become frustrated and shut down. I first experienced this in person at their May 20 match against New York Red Bulls. Their frustrations led to a straight red card among other things. On Sunday against Toronto, the team became frustrated from lack of scoring and from a few missed calls by the ref. But Atlanta cannot blame anyone but themselves. If they were taking care of business, those missed calls wouldn’t have mattered in the end.