Atlanta United 2 Martínez 12’ 43’
One day we’re going to have a season where we’re not all sick of watching this team play before the All-Star Game even hits. A season where we can go into every game reasonably sure we can get a result. Maybe not like 2017, but something.
In 2019, though, we have games like today. Games where we have something close to our best possible lineup, and it doesn’t matter, because the other team is always better.
With Nico Gaitán and Johan Kappelhof starting, I had hopes that this team would put in a performance at least resembling what they put on last week against NYC. What we got instead was largely the opposite of that. Whereas the Fire bossed the opening 15 minutes against New York, they were knocked back on their heels for the first 15 here. And this time, they were on the receiving end of an early goal, courtesy of Josef Martínez.
Chicago started playing a bit better after the goal, but not well enough to break through. As is so often the case, that killer ball remained elusive. Aleksandar Katai posed a constant threat, and Nemanja Nikolic gave Brad Guzan a scare, but it wasn’t enough.
The Fire kept trying to apply pressure but couldn’t get a good enough grip. Atlanta held on well enough. Shortly before halftime, Martínez doubled the lead for the home side. The Men In Red went into halftime down 2-0 and, frankly, were lucky that it wasn’t worse.
The second half didn’t begin much better. The Fire’s back line scrambled to keep Atlanta’s attackers out while the rest of the squad prayed that Katai or someone else up front could have an individual moment of brilliance. There was no real team plan to get back into the game, and it showed.
The Fire kept on like that through the rest of the game; good enough to not let things get worse. Katai, the closest thing to a real attacking threat for Chicago on the pitch tonight, went quiet in the second half and then came off for Fabian Herbers. The Fire gave up on this game long before the final whistle. And so did I.
The game ended 2-0. The Fire head into a nice long break now. Maybe it’ll do them good. I suspect it’ll just give them time to stew in their juices, and nothing meaningful will change. You truly never know which version of the Fire you’re going to get from one game to the next. I just wish the good versions came out more often.