With a week before it opens its season, Atlanta United looked like it could use a few more days to get ready after struggling through a 0-0 draw during regulation with Leones Negros on Tuesday in a friendly that saw Miles Robinson leave the game early with a possible injury. Atlanta United lost 3-1 in penalty kicks with three of its attempts saved.
Atlanta United put just one shot on goal during regulation while allowing four quality chances to its hosts, a Mexican second-division side, in Guadalajara.
Atlanta United set up the game as part of its preparations for next week’s season-opener in Honduras against Motagua in the Champions League. The team flew in Monday and then was scheduled to leave Wednesday. Most of the starters played 90 minutes for the first time this preseason and did so in the city’s altitude of more than 5,000 feet.
Additionally, the bench was thin. Matheus Rossetto, Jake Mulraney, George Bello and Edgar Castillo didn’t travel with the club for the trip. Rossetto and Mulraney were working on their visas. Castillo is rehabbing a rib injury sustained while in Florida at training camp. Bello was recovering from injury.
Atlanta United’s starting 11, which manager Frank de Boer hinted will be what he uses in next week’s season-opening game against Motagua: Brad Guzan in goal with Franco Escobar, Robinson and Fernando Meza as the centerbacks. Brooks Lennon and Anton Walkes were the wingbacks with Jeff Larentowicz and Emerson Hyndman as the defensive midfielders. Ezequiel Barco, Pity Martinez and Josef Martinez were the attacking trident.
For the second consecutive game, Atlanta United saw a defender leave the game prematurely because of an injury. This time, Robinson, one of the best defenders in MLS, suffered a possible left leg injury and left the game in the 22nd minute. It was a non-contact moment where Robinson appeared to either twist or strain his knee. George Campbell came on for him in the 24th minute. Robinson was able to walk off the field. Against Birmingham, Bello was stretchered off after suffering a head injury.
Atlanta United failed to put a shot on goal in the first half.
The shots didn’t come early in the second half either.
De Boer switched the formation around the 60th minute to four at the back with Campbell as a right fullback, Walkes and Meza as centerbacks and Escobar as a right fullback.
Atlanta United’s defense had its issues, with Leones Negros missing three chances in the first 25 minutes of the second half.
On offense, Atlanta United’s first shot on goal didn’t come until the 75th minute and it was a 30-yard shot by Pity Martinez that was easily saved.
The game went to penalty kicks.
Attempts by Meza, Hyndman and Barco were saved to seal the loss.