Atlanta United shut out for third consecutive MLS game

Team falls 3-0 at Chicago

It was thought that 2020 was Atlanta United’s low point. No playoffs. A horrible offense. Confusion on defense.

Well, 2021 isn’t shaping up to be much better for the team through its first 11 games.

Missing several starters to injuries, Atlanta United was outplayed and outscored 3-0 by Chicago on Saturday night at Soldier Field.

Chicago arguably was the worst team in MLS before Saturday’s games started. It had scored only seven goals in 10 games. It had allowed 17.

Instead, Chicago held Atlanta United without a shot on goal for 70 minutes as Atlanta United’s anemic offense now has scored 11 goals in 11 games. It finished with two shots on goal to Chicago’s four. Atlanta United has been shut out in three consecutive games, which resulted in the previous manager, Frank de Boer, losing his job last season.

Atlanta United’s defense, featuring two players making their first starts this season in the middle of the formation, was cut open time and time again by simple passes and moves by Chicago.

With the loss, Atlanta United is 2-3-6 and faces a game at Nashville on Thursday. The team likely will be without at least seven starters because of call-ups to national teams or injuries.

Atlanta United played without starting striker Josef Martinez (fitness), midfielder Emerson Hyndman (knee), midfielder Santiago Sosa (undisclosed), midfielder Franco Ibarra (injury), and back-ups Jurgen Damm (injury), Matheus Rossetto (injury) and centerback Alan Franco (undisclosed).

As a result of so many absences, Heinze selected the following starting 11: Erick Torres at striker, Jake Mulraney, Erik Lopez, Ezequiel Barco, Mo Adams, making his first start this season, and 18-year-old Tyler Wolff, making his season debut, in the midfield, with Brooks Lennon, Miles Robinson, Anton Walkes and George Bello across the back, and Brad Guzan in goal. The bench included Marcelino Moreno, Machop Chol and Jackson Conway.

As had been the case time after time this season, Atlanta United’s offense couldn’t find a gear early. Its first shot didn’t come until the 32nd minute, a header wide by Torres. This against a defense that surrendered nine shots on goal in the first half of a recent game against Cincinnati.

Chicago took a 1-0 lead a few minutes later. Alvaro Medran went past Adams and dribbled toward the top of the penalty box. He passed it off to a wide-open Ignacio Aliseda, whose shot was deflected and bounced off the underside of the crossbar.

That goal made the team’s history loom large: It is 1-24-5 all-time away from home when its opponent scores first.

Guzan kept the score at 1-0 with a left-handed save of a shot by Przemyslaw Frankowski in the third minute of stoppage time in the first half. Chicago sliced through Atlanta United’s defense with two passes.

Chicago increased its lead to 2-0 just before halftime when Walkes attempted a cross-field pass to Lopez in his own half. Lopez couldn’t get to the ball. The pass was intercepted around 30 yards from goal and the ball passed to Aliseda, who curled in a right-footed shot.

Heinze brought on Moreno and Chol in the 56th minute for Lopez and Mulraney in an attempt to spark the offense and save legs for Thursday’s game against Nashville.

Instead, Chicago scored its third when the Fire went right down the middle of a field on a counter that was finished by Frankowski in the 58th minute.

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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 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0

June 27 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0

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, 8 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 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

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