Atlanta United opens a gap in the tie against FC Cincinnati

Atlanta United and FC Cincinnati played to a goalless draw on Saturday, although both teams created a handful of chances that likely would have ended any other day. It’s an unfortunate result for Atlanta United, who dominated possession and grew into play in the second half, but a lack of clinical shooting cost the Five Stripes the three points against the three-time spoon winners.

Atlanta’s record now stands at 3-2-2 and remains fourth in the Eastern Conference at the time of writing. Cincinnati is 2-4-1 and remains 12th in the East.

With so many injuries plaguing Atlanta United these days, the starting line-up will always be of interest. Alan Franco is currently on a day-to-day basis with an ankle injury and completely misses the matchday squad. Meanwhile, Caleb Wiley and Ronaldo Cisneros both started for the Five Stripes for the first time, while Luiz Araújo and Emerson Hyndman started on the bench after absences through injury. Araújo and Hyndman both came on as substitutes in the 74th minute.

Atlanta United had a few chances to score on the scoresheet throughout the game, but the most obvious chance was a penalty Wiley received after skinning two defenders and crossing the ball that hit a defender’s hand. Marcelino Moreno took the penalty, but former Atlanta United goalkeeper Alec Kann saved it with a good save.

There were plenty of chances that the Five Stripes could have (and probably should) have taken. Thiago Almada had two chances that came to mind and Andrew Gutman missed his shot in added time to win the game.

“Luis [Araújo] I played great ball and, you know, I kind of shit on the bed,” Gutman said. “It’s really hard for me to take. I thought I could score the goal and we could win 1-0 and for me I feel the results are on my shoulders.”

Atlanta United struggled to create a lot in the first half despite dominating possession. Here are those numbers:

And here are the same stats after the final whistle:

Just looking at these numbers, one can see that Atlanta United turned the game around in terms of using the ball to actually create chances.

Pineda on the discussion with his team at halftime:

“It wasn’t tactical. I think tactics are fine. I think we just unbalanced midfield very well and created a lot of chances down the flanks, a few from midfield. We talked about patience and tried to have a little more ball security and a better understanding of the last third. I think we created the best chances in the second half but again we didn’t score and that’s the story of the game.”

In a season that has already seen Atlanta United grapple with a host of high-profile injuries, Pineda has another injury headache to contend with. Around the 70th minute, Brad Guzan went off the ball and immediately waved to the medical staff. Guzan had to be carried off the field on a stretcher and was replaced by Bobby Shuttleworth.

Pineda spoke solemnly about Guzan’s injury in the post-match press conference, revealing that the goalkeeper suffered an Achilles tendon injury. Gutman and Miles both gave their opinions on the situation and heaped praise on the keeper.

“You’re just used to having Brad back there at this point,” Miles said. “You know he’s always been pretty much every game I’ve played for Atlanta United so you just get used to him, you understand what he wants and you know what he wants and he always demands what is essential for the goalkeeper.”

The additional element here that doesn’t play into the other injuries the team is struggling with is the leadership aspect (aside from the injuries to Josef and Ozzie Alonso). Bobby Shuttleworth is the next man between the sticks for the Five Stripes.

Atlanta United returns to the US Open Cup on Wednesday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium, where the Five Stripes will host NISA side Chattanooga FC. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

Viardos Sports