Atlanta United’s goal drought leaves margin for error impossibly thin

Mike Conti
March 31, 2019 - 11:52 am
Atlanta United

© Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

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COLUMBUS — By all major statistical metrics, Atlanta United outplayed Columbus Crew here Saturday night.

The Stripes created a season-high 13 chances. They had 12 shots, and five on target. They limited Columbus to only one cross and two shots on frame in open play. And yet, two critical mistakes made it all meaningless.

There was essentially no hope for Atlanta United after Gyasi Zardes scored right before halftime. Both clubs were drowning on an unplayable pitch. And yet, Atlanta United still carried on to create a couple of good scoring chances in the second half. The persistence and fight can be a major positive takeaway from the evening.

But, befuddlingly, Atlanta United is just not good enough to overcome their mistakes right now. The reasons can be debated, but the trend is to extremely alarming. Sadly, one could argue that Atlanta United had its best league match of the year on a night where they lost 2-0.

The match should never have been played. Or it at least should have been stopped and resumed on Sunday. The pitch was flooded and unplayable in the second half for both clubs. Tackles were becoming ten yard high velocity hydroplanes that endangered the safety of players. Both clubs completed less than 55 percent of their passes in the second half, something that would have to challenge a record in professional soccer’s hall of shame.

Louisville and Birmingham did the right thing and postponed a Saturday USL fixture because of unplayable conditions. Why couldn’t they have done the same in Columbus, on a night where national television was not a concern?

Making both teams play in standing water not only endangered the players, but it did a great disservice to the fans who endured a highly unenjoyable, sloppy match that was better suited for beach soccer. At the very least, an evaluation of MLS’ foul weather policy is in order.