Rinse, repeat: Atlanta United falls behind, drops points

Atlanta United was defeated by Inter Miami 2-1 on Wednesday in Ft. Lauderdale.
Atlanta United was defeated by Inter Miami 2-1 on Wednesday in Ft. Lauderdale.

Credit: MLS

Credit: MLS

Atlanta United fullback Brooks Lennon said there’s a simple starting point for the team to turn around its woeful offense: stop falling behind in MLS games.

It happened again in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at Inter Miami. Miami’s Lewis Morgan scored on a counterattack in the 28th minute for the game’s first goal, and for the sixth time in the past eight games, the Five Stripes (3-5-2) were chasing a result. They earned only one point from those games, and it came on a last-second header by Adam Jahn in a 1-1 draw at Orlando.

“This is a common theme that we don’t start well,” Lennon said. “We give away early goals, and we’re always trying to come from behind, and we need to change that narrative. We need to come out from the first minute and be on top of teams because you see out there that we can do it.

"We out-possess teams, move the ball well at times and we’re competing, but we just can’t try to come from behind and try to equalize every game.”

Atlanta United isn’t built to rally. It lacks speed in the starting lineup, and in past games, it has shown little imagination in the opponent’s third. It created only six chances against Miami, and three of those came from the back line. Ezequiel Barco, who started at attacking midfielder, created none.

Atlanta United did rally on a goal by Eric Remedi in the 33rd minute but fell behind again five minutes later on another goal by Morgan. Atlanta United’s last chance to earn a draw came a few minutes later when two penalty kicks by Barco were saved by Miami’s Luis Robles.

That was it.

For the remaining 45 minutes, Atlanta United failed to test Robles with anything that made him work. It took five more shots, putting two on goal. In an important example of the team’s struggles on offense, it failed to get off a shot in the final 11 minutes. Interim manager Stephen Glass said the team had trouble dealing with the pressure applied by Miami’s front players. As a result, the team started to alter its tactics.

“I wouldn’t say panic setting in, but trying to do things different from the way we set up,” he said. “Altered probably a little bit the game plan and the approach of the players. We just need to continue believing in the way that we are moving the ball when you are getting success and continue down that road.”

As has been the case during this block of games, Atlanta United won’t have a lot of time to work out its myriad issues because it plays again Saturday in Nashville. Thursday will be rest and recovery in training. Friday will be prepping for Nashville, which has five points from its past three games.

“I have witnessed the club win a championship and go through a bit of a rut like we are now, but I think the most important thing for us right now is something that Glassy is harping on at the moment is just sticking together," midfielder Jon Gallagher said.

"Atlanta United has a target on their back, and I think right now we can’t really feel sorry for ourselves. We have a game in two days. Our focus has to shift to that. We are bitterly disappointed in tonight, and we know we could have done a lot better, but we’ve got to collectively stay together and pick each other up.”

Atlanta United coming games

Saturday at Nashville, 8:30 p.m. (Fox Sports South)

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