Goals after goals an odd issue for Atlanta United

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Goals after goals an odd issue for Atlanta United

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ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
March 5, 2017, Atlanta: Atlanta United RC Carlos Carmona can’t block a shot by N.Y. Red Bulls Bradley Wright-Phillips during the second half in the first game in franchise history on Sunday, March 5, 2017, in Atlanta. Wright-Phillips scored the winning goal to defeat the Atlanta United RC 2-1. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

For all of Atlanta United’s success on offense during its inaugural season, it has shown a tendency to waste some of its scoring by quickly giving up goals.

Eight times this season, including twice in last week’s 3-3 draw with Orlando City, the Five Stripes have scored, only to allow a goal within five minutes.

“The most important time after you score is the first five minutes,” Atlanta United midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. “Usually you say that, and unfortunately we didn’t take care of that. The result reflected that, unfortunately. At the same time, we fight back, fight back three times.”

Sometimes, the goals are the result of losing focus in that crucial 5-minute window, which Atlanta United players acknowledge they can do. Sometimes, like against Orlando City, it’s the result of the opponent making great plays. The Lions followed two Atlanta United goals by scoring two goals on headers following pinpoint crosses.

“There’s a natural element that maybe after you score you maybe take your foot off the gas a little bit and allow a team to breath some lift into their own team and system,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “In terms of us, I’m not sure why that’s happened but we have to try to limit that.”

Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino said goals after goals isn’t something he’s worried about, and if it were a systemic issue it would be addressed in training.

 The damage hasn’t been too severe. The team (12-8-7) has picked up nine points (two wins, three draws) in the five league games in which it has given up a goal soon after scoring. 

Goals after goals also happened in both of the team’s U.S. Open Cup matches. It defeated Charleston 3-2 in the first, but lost the second at Miami 3-2.

Goals after goals can’t continue if the team wants to continue trying to secure the highest possible seed for the playoffs. Atlanta United is in fifth place with 43 points in the Eastern Conference. With a victory against the Galaxy (7-15-6), Atlanta United can overtake Columbus for fourth place and pull within two points of Chicago for third, despite playing one fewer game.

Though the L.A. Galaxy are in danger of having their worst season, the team has more than enough firepower to cause Atlanta United’s defense problems, particularly if the team loses its focus in the minutes after scoring.

Roman Alessandrini leads the team with nine goals and 10 assists. Giovani dos Santos is having an off year, but has six goals.

Martino said the Galaxy are much better than their 27-point total, and are especially dangerous now that they have all of their pieces on offense healthy and together.

“It’s down to us,” Atlanta United midfielder Chris McCann said. “Concentration levels right after scoring, you are always vulnerable to concede. We probably just need to kill the game a little bit more, use a little bit more game management, settle the game a little bit more for the next 2-3 minutes after a goal. Try to play at our pace, try to keep the ball better, limit opportunities.

“We will learn from that game and hopefully not make the same mistakes.” 

 

SITUATIONS IN WHICH ATLANTA UNITED HAS GIVEN UP GOALS WITHIN 5 MINUTES OF SCORING:

Atlanta United 27th minute, Minnesota United 30th minute. Atlanta United led 3-1. 

RESULT: Atlanta United won 6-1.

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Atlanta United 15th minute, Toronto 20th minute. The score was tied at 1-1. 

RESULT:The teams tied 2-2.

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Atlanta United 46th minute, Portland 50th minute. The score was tied at 1-1. 

RESULT:The teams tied 1-1.

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Atlanta United 30th minute, Charleston 41st minute. Atlanta United trailed 2-1. 

RESULT: Atlanta United won 3-2.

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Atlanta United 35th minute, Miami 37th minute. The score was tied at 1-1. 

RESULT: Atlanta United lost 3-2.

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Atlanta United 65th minute, San Jose 66th minute. The score was tied at 2-2. 

RESULT: Atlanta United won 4-2.

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Atlanta United 36th minute, Orlando 39th minute. Orlando City led 2-1. 

RESULT: The teams tied 3-3.

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Atlanta United 55th minute, Orlando 58th minute. Orlando City led 3-2. 

RESULT: The teams tied 3-3.

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SITUATIONS IN WHICH ATLANTA UNITED SCORED SOON AFTER OPPONENTS SCORED

Toronto 44th minute, Atlanta United 47th minute. The score was tied at 2-2. 

RESULT: The teams tied 2-2.

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Philadelphia 23rd minute, Atlanta United 26th minute. Atlanta United trailed 2-1. 

RESULT: The teams tied 2-2.

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