Atlanta United failure to close out Nashville not typical

Credit: MLS

Caption
The Five Stripes’ offense, inconsistent most of the season, finished with 12 shots, five on goal, in 2-2 draw against Nashville.

Credit: MLS

Atlanta United has taken pride this season in playing intelligent, tough soccer for 90 minutes.

A mindset was being formed by manager Gabriel Heinze.

That’s partly why Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Nashville at Mercedes-Benz Stadium felt like two points dropped instead of one point won.

“Results like that, for me at least and I’m sure for a lot of the guys, it feels like a loss,” fullback George Bello said.

The Five Stripes had a two-goal lead after strikes by Marcelino Moreno and Erik Lopez and, other than a few minutes near the end of the first half, seemed to have the match under control. And then came the final 10 minutes and everything unraveled.

Atlanta United midfielder Marcelino Moreno makes a shot on goal against Nashville defender Dave Romney (4) during the first half Saturday, May 29, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The matched ended in a 2-2 draw. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Caption
Atlanta United midfielder Marcelino Moreno makes a shot on goal against Nashville defender Dave Romney (4) during the first half Saturday, May 29, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The matched ended in a 2-2 draw. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

First, Hany Mukhtar scored in the 80th minute after a simple one-two pass between Daniel Lovitz and Matt LaGrassa, with Lovitz subsequently finding Mukhtar, who was the other point in their passing triangle. There was a failure to track Lovitz on his short run, and a stab at a tackle by another player on Mukhtar before his shot, which wasn’t hit hard but placed well into the goal’s opposite, lower corner.

Three minutes later, Mukhtar scored the equalizer after a shot bounced off Miles Robinson and landed a yards to the left at the feet of Mukhtar, who was unmarked a few yards from goal.

Heinze said he doesn’t know if there were breakdowns by the defense but he acknowledged that the players weren’t paying attention on those plays and took responsibility for not preparing them properly.

“A football game can’t be analyzed by individual parts,” Heinze said in response to a question about the offense but also applied to his defense. “You have to analyze the whole context. The way I feel is to analyze the whole game. You can play in different ways. You can be attacking well and defending bad. But the results are not going to appear often. I think you need to work in both parts in order to win a game.”

Three points against Nashville, which remains unbeaten after Saturday’s draw would have been the third in three strong performances against some of the better teams in MLS this season.

Still, Atlanta United earned five total points from Montreal, Seattle and Nashville. But, it could have been better.

Bello said that was Heinze’s message after the game.

“The main thing he said was to be focused for the full 90,” Bello said. “We can never think that we are the better team because that’s when everything goes downhill. He said in both football and life you should never think that you are better than the person in front of you because that’s when you start rewarding them.”

Now, the team has three weeks until its next game when it hosts Philadelphia, last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners and the team that eliminated them from this year’s Champions League, in three weeks.

It’s another chance to play 90 minutes. Another chance to keep improving.

“....We just have to keep working and keep improving because this is soccer and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you draw,” Lopez said.

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Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule

April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0

April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1

May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1,

May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1

May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

June 20 vs. Philadelphia, 2 p.m., ESPN

June 23 at NYCFC (at Red Bull Arena), TBD, BSSO/BSSE

June 27 vs. New York Red Bulls, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at Chicago, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 8 at Nashville, 8:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. New England, 5 p.m., ESPN

July 21 at Cincinnati, 7 p.m., FS1

July 24 vs. Columbus, 3:30 p.m., ABC

July 30 at Orlando, 8 p.m., ESPN

Aug. 4 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 7 at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 15 vs. LAFC, 4 p.m. ESPN

Aug. 18 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at D.C. United, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 28 vs. Nashville, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 10 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 15 vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 18 vs. D.C. United, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 25 at Philadelphia,3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 29 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., FS1

Oct. 2 at Montreal, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 16 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, TBD, BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE