3 Up, 3 Down: California Dreamin'

Jarrett Smith
April 10, 2018 - 10:02 pm
Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

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Another home game, another win for Atlanta United after they put five in the net against expansion side Los Angeles Football Club. The margin probably was not an accurate representation of the entire game, but it certainly represented the end of the match where LAFC went to pieces.

Let us look at the good and bad of it all, again:

3 UP

  1. Michael Parkhurst

The Captain earned Team of the Week honors and he absolutely deserved it, directing traffic on a backline where he was the only regular starter. Atlanta went with three in the back as they have done since the Houston debacle with Chris McCann joining Miles Robinson flanking Parkhurst. Parkhurst collected five interceptions and four clearances against an offense that had little trouble scoring before their visit to Atlanta. He even showed some touch picking up a secondary assist on Atlanta’s first goal, dancing through defenders before laying the ball off to Almiron who put it across to Gressel.

  1. Miles Robinson

Welcome the MLS, kid. Your first assignment is a team that had not been shut out yet and had collected a few wins on the road while playing a fun brand of golazo-heave soccer. Robinson is still a bit raw with the ball at his feet but it is hard to knock him, physically. He showed all the tools to be a very good defender in the league when he was coming out of college and after a quiet first year Tata Martino handed him a big start and he handled it as well as anyone could have asked. He showed the raw speed to chance down Rossi and deny him a 1 v 1 with Guzan, had two key blocks and even won two tackles. Most of his 2018 is probably going to be spent at Gwinnett but it was a great first showing and a great confidence builder for the young defender.

  1. Julian Gressel

I do not know if Gressel went on a secret walkabout or if he started breathing through his eyelids like the lava lizards of the Galapagos Islands, but whatever it was it is working for the second-year winger. Gressel picked up a goal and an assist and both were wonderful. He exploited Latif Blessing’s unwillingness to play defense along with Josef Martinez’s gravity to hang around the back post unmarked on his goal, and then just absolutely torched Joao Moutinho before putting a perfect back-post cross on to Martinez’s head. There will be some challenges in the coming weeks if Gressel stays at right wingback in the 3-5-2 setup, but he certainly seems to have found a place there.

3 Down

  1. Tito Villalba

Tito has been putting in great work for the last few weeks without much to show for it on the back of his card, but the LAFC game just was not his day. We got the full spectrum of the Villalba experience where he took a man’s soul with his dribbling before scuffing a shot that was less than good. After that round of excitement, he was not really a factor in the match and was removed for Kevin Kratz (which proved to be a wonderful sub.) It does not meat Villalba is on the outside looking in and everyone has their quiet days, it just means that Saturday was his quiet day.

  1. Chris McCann’s baseball slide

Chris McCann was sent off in the first minute of the game and then was not sent off in an MLS first. Seriously, even the players after the game said they had never seen a player in the tunnel get waved back on the field. It was a hard challenge that could have been very dangerous. McCann settled things down as the game went on to his credit but it was still a risky play that almost put the team in a tough spot for the second straight week. At least he did not slide head first into home, I suppose.

  1. LAFC’s mental state

We are clearly running out of bad things here so how about this: LAFC has given up 9 unanswered goals since they built a 3-0 lead and looked like they were going to run The Galaxy out of their own building. Saturday was not any better as Atlanta’s punches appeared to shake the foundation of the expansion club. McCann’s tackle may have played a big role in that and Atlanta were certainly physical in the match, but LAFC will have to fight through it and not let it bother them – or at least appear like it does not bother them – as teams will more than likely use the blueprint to sit back let them have possession while being as physical as the laws of the game allow.

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