In their second game of the group stage, Atlanta United lost 1-0 to FC Cincinnati and are now all but eliminated. Here are three things we learned.
On Thursday morning, Atlanta United fell 1-0 to FC Cincinnati after a wonderful strike from Frankie Amaya in the 76th minute. It was a cagey match overall, featuring a 26th-minute red card, a 100th-minute red card, and eight yellow cards overall. Jake Mulraney was forced to exit after his second yellow in the 26th minute. Forward JJ Williams, in his first appearance for Atlanta United, also picked up a red card in the 100th minute after kicking Cincinnati defender Kendall Waston.
Neither team managed more than three shots on target, which proved an accurate indication into how entertaining the match was. After the Atlanta red card, both were happy to hand possession to the opposition as Cincinnati continued to keep all of their players behind the ball and Atlanta struggled to truly breakthrough.
Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan played well once again, notching two very important saves even after the Five Stripes went down to ten men. Defender Miles Robinson also put in a solid shift with two blocked shots, four duels won, and 96.8% pass completion rate. Right wing-back Brooks Lennon was also a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable match.
Here are three things we learned from Thursday morning’s forgettable match.
3. Red card trouble early
Atlanta United got out to a rough start when left wing-back Jake Mulraney picked up his first yellow card on a dangerous foul just 12 minutes into the match. Mulraney subsequently picked up his second yellow only 14 minutes later, forcing Atlanta to play with a man disadvantage for over an hour.
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The Five Stripes were already dealing with issues in the attack without striker Josef Martinez. Frank de Boer opted to start Adam Jahn but was forced to remove the center-forward after Mulraney’s red card. With just Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco in the attack, Atlanta struggled to create chances.
It was clear after the red card that Atlanta did not have a backup plan in place. The players fought hard and did well to only allow one goal, but Cincinnati were hardly proactive with the ball and the Five Stripes could not figure out how to attack with ten men. Atlanta were always going to struggle with ten men. Ultimately, such early mistakes dig too deep a hole.