The team’s task was made more difficult, according to Glass and captain Jeff Larentowicz, by Red Bulls taking a lead just two minutes into the start of the second half. It was New York’s first shot on goal — it had just two in the game — and it allowed them to settle into tactics the team has honed over the seasons.
Atlanta United’s lineup, which featured several players in their first seasons in MLS, didn’t have the experience and needed a bit more effort to unlock Red Bulls, according to Larentowicz.
“I said it at halftime when I came in, I think we needed 10-to-15 percent more when we’re in that final third,” he said. “If we’re getting a half-of-a-step for a cross, you have to have more players in the box. Sometimes we were crossing to nobody and that’s just not going to be able to get it done. To be able to score a goal, you have to be on the front foot, fill the box, get on the end of something and score the goal.”
Atlanta United attempted seven open play crosses in the first half with Jon Gallagher in at striker. He reached one by beating his defender to the near post. His headed shot went wide.
Larentowicz said the most important lesson for the team is that it must score early when it is controlling the game. Atlanta United was the better team in the first half, particularly in the final 15 minutes of the first half when Marcelino Moreno, making his debut, and Emerson Hyndman began combining with wide players Jurgen Damm, Brooks Lennon, Jake Mulraney and George Bello. Damm twice had the ball in the penalty box but seemed to get stuck between ideas and as a result wasted opportunities.
“When you’re on the front foot, when you’re dangerous in the first half, you have to score the goal,” Larentowicz said. “That’s what changes the game. That’s what the reward for your good play is.”
The stats to support Larentowicz: Atlanta United is 5-0-0 when it scores first. It is 0-9-1 when it concedes first.
“Honestly the lesson is not necessarily what you’re going to do when you’re down 1-0 and a team packs it in, the question really is, when we’re on top of the game, can we get a hold of the game by scoring the goal," Larentowicz said.
Atlanta United coming games
Wednesday at Miami (3-7-2), 8 p.m., FSSE
Oct. 18 at Toronto (6-2-4) in Hartford, Conn., 7:30 p.m., FSSE
Oct. 24 vs. D.C. United (2-5-5), 4 p.m., FSSE
Oct. 28 at Orlando (6-2-4), 7:30 p.m., FS1
Nov. 1 vs. Cincinnati (3-6-3), 7 p.m., FSSE
Nov. 8 at Columbus (8-1-3), 3:30 p.m., FSSE
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