Three takeaways from Union vs. ATL loss

Chances created but not finished

The Union executed their gameplan well, working the ball around Atlanta’s defense and creating isolation moments for their wingers. Ilsinho, in particular, tortured the Five Stripes’ defenders up the right and connected with Ale Bedoya, Borek Dockal, and Keegan Rosenberry to get behind Atlanta and look for cutbacks. Meanwhile, Fafa Picault used his speed to open chances for crosses to the far post. In the end, though, none of the Union’s opportunities hit the back of the net.

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Control the ball

A key aspect of Philly’s system is keeping possession and forcing the opponent’s defense to rotate around the pitch. This worked particularly well in the opening forty-five minutes, with Ale Bedoya pushing forward and forcing Miguel Almiron to drop deep. As a result, the Paraguayan received the ball deeper than preferred and failed to create the chances Atlanta hoped to use to jump on top early. Once the visitors got in front, Almiron was able to push forward as the game became stretched, and he became harder to contain.

Make the stars work

Atlanta United is packed with expensive talent, so other teams need to force those high-priced assets to work for their rewards. Aside from Almiron’s two chances created, the Union were excellent at shutting down Atlanta’s attack. Ezequiel Barco, Josef Martinez, and Hector Villalba, combined for a single completed pass from open play in the final third before the penalty that put them ahead. Auston Trusty did battle with Martinez all night, running up the striker’s back and preventing him from rolling into space. Holding Martinez to a single shot — and that off a deep turnover and transition — prior to his penalty goal is an impressive feat for a young back line.

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