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.
Chicago 3, Atlanta United 0 (match statistics)
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