Season-long issues result in Atlanta United losing at Miami

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Two season-long issues, a lack of precision on offense and a breakdown on defense, resulted in Atlanta United losing at Inter Miami 2-1 on Sunday at DRV PNK Stadium.

Both were things that manager Gonzalo Pineda discussed in detail on Friday and they came to fruition as the Five Stripes fell to 3-3-2, including 1-3-0 on the road.

The team dominated most of the game, taking 20 shots, putting seven on goal, which was as many as Miami took, and creating 12 chances, but could do no more than Ronaldo Cisneros’ goal early in the game. It also had at least two penalty claims denied, a weak one by Marcelino Moreno in the first half and a strong one by Brooks Lennon in the second half. The team has scored two goals in its past four MLS games. The hosts capitalized on a moment of individual brilliance and a turnover by Atlanta United on defense for their goals.

“It’s a sour taste in my mouth because we should have won this one,” Pineda said. “We are doing so many good things.”

Cisneros started at striker with Thiago Almada, Moreno and Caleb Wiley across the midfield. Santiago Sosa and Amar Sejdic were paired in the central midfield with Lennon and Andrew Gutman as the fullbacks, Miles Robinson and George Campbell as the centerbacks, and Bobby Shuttleworth in goal.

Cisneros scored his first Atlanta United goal to give the team a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute. The sequence started with a corner kick. The ball bounced off several players before Cisneros was able to punch it in from close range. The goal was the first scored by an Atlanta United striker in an MLS game in approximately 375 minutes.

“Luckily the ball fell to me again, and thank God I was able to finish it,” Cisneros said.

Cisneros came close to adding a second in the 18th minute when he was the recipient of a nice sequence of passes between Moreno and Almada, who found the striker about 18 yards from goal. Cisneros opened his hips to try to pass the ball into the lower right corner, but goalkeeper Nick Marsman dove to his left to make the save.

Miami’s Leo Campana tied the game in the 28th minute when he scored on a cross by DeAndre Yedlin, who got away from Wiley to put in a pass from the end line. Campana, with his back to the goal and while turning to his left, instead switched the ball to his right to create space against Lennon and put a shot into the opposite corner.

Almada missed a chance to give Atlanta United a 2-1 lead in the 41st minute when he was played in on goal by Moreno. Almada attempted a left-footed shot into the opposite corner, but it rolled wide.

Atlanta United dominated most of the first half but couldn’t do the thing that was most important: score. There were long sequences of passing and movement around Miami’s box before something would break down, either a stray pass, stray touch or poor decision. The team finished with six shots, three on goal, and created five chances.

The roughness happened again in the 50th minute after Moreno and Wiley combined several times to tear through Miami’s defense. The ball eventually fell to Lennon just yards from goal, but his volley went over the crossbar.

Cisneros was denied by Marsman in the 53rd minute when he tried a backheel following a cross by Lennon as Atlanta United continued to apply pressure.

Still tied at 1 and still dominating the game in the 62nd minute, Luiz Araujo came on for Wiley to see if the deadlock could be broken.

Instead, Miami took a 2-1 lead, and transition defense, which Pineda said would be important, was the reason.

First, Campbell turned over the ball at midfield with an errant pass. Then, with Miami breaking toward goal, Campbell failed to get a touch on a pass near him. The ball rolled to Campana, who played it back across goal to an open Bryce Duke to tap in at the 64th minute. Pineda said the second goal allowed was upsetting because transition defense is something the team works on quite a lot, especially angles of defense.

“He’s a centerback with enormous potential,” Pineda said. “We are still very high on George. What’s missing is consistency. That will come with time. He needs to believe in himself. I believe in him.”

Emerson Hyndman and Jake Mulraney came on for Gutman and Sejdic in the 76th minute.

Lennon was knocked down in the box by Noah Allen. After first saying no penalty and then a review, the referee again ruled no penalty.

Pineda said he had trust on VAR on both of the team’s penalty claims.

“From my perspective, it should have been a PK, but I haven’t seen the play (again),” Pineda said. “I trust whatever the referees are deciding against us is OK. I will never complain about it.”

Araujo tried a left-footed shot from the left corner of the penalty box, but it rolled wide to the right.

Cisneros pushed a header inches wide in the final seconds. He said he tried to push it to the far post in hopes of it either going in or that a teammate could reach it.

“There were moments of the game where I felt that we had the dominant side,” Pineda said. “And we create enough chances in my opinion, but things like this have happened to us that we need to be just more clinical. And I think also the goals we are conceding are not up to the standard we want to concede. We just need to do better on both ends.”

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 1:30 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs. Miami, 3 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

Aug. 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

Aug. 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

Aug. 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas