July 11, 2007

Atlanta-FC Dallas recap (U.S. Open Cup Third Round)

Sorry for the late post, but we wanted to get together and share our thoughts on the match with each other before posting.

First, I just want to give props to the players on both teams for a gutsy performance in the middle of a hectic week. This match was the second of four for both teams in the span of a week, and to play 120 minutes must have been grueling.

I figured Atlanta would have one very good chance to score, but I didn't think it would come as early as it did. If Rafique Hassim had put away his breakaway attempt in the third minute, it would have totally changed the match. His miss set the tone for the match, but the Silverbacks needed that goal because it was going to be their best chance of the match.

The Dallas goal was equally frustrating. How can Moore and Lancaster let Ruiz walk the ball to the top of the box without going to the ball? They left McIntosh out to dry on that one.

I really thought the match was done there given the way Atlanta was playing. Kudos to them for getting a goal against the run of play on a play that didn't really deserve a goal. I still don't know how they scored on that play, but it worked.

Unfortunately, Antoniuk lost his cool a few minutes later and the Silverbacks basically had to play for PKs. They let Oduro scoot through in extra time, but fortunately the ex-VCU star missed his breakaway attempt.

As for the penalty kicks, Shoe and I have differing opinions about the order of kicks for Atlanta. If Hayes is your regular PK taker, why have him shoot fifth? You have to put your best takers first so that they are sure of getting a shot. To have Moore go second was a big mistake.

While I can't really fault Moore on his shot, O'Brien's miss was inexcusable. He was brought on late specifically to take a PK and he didn't even put it on goal. Awful.
Buete's miss I can deal with a little more. He was absolutely spent after playing 120 minutes and it showed on his shot. Sala didn't even move on Buete's shot so if he places it to either side it's in.

Too bad Buete had to take one, but there was really no one left at that point to take it. The only other players available to take one were all defensive players.

While many people are saying this was a great match to watch I have to disagree. The Silverbacks had no offensive scheme and basically handed possession to Dallas over and over. Fortunately for them, their defense didn't allow Dallas to have too many clear chances on goal, and when they did McIntosh saved them time and time again.

As for McIntosh, this could be a game that could get MLS teams calling about his availability. To play that type of match in that showcase will do wonders for his confidence and career.
You can't fault him at all on the PKs. He made two saves when his team needed them the most.

For those who think we are anti-Silverbacks, here me out:
If Atlanta had won, that would have made my year. I've been waiting for this team to finally play an MLS team very closely and it finally happened. It sucks that they couldn't succeed in the circumstances that they wanted.

Hopefully this match will only bring Atlanta more confidence and will lead them to greater things this season. This could be a loss that could spring their season into a successful one. But I also wouldn't be surprised if the season totally falls apart from this point.

Now they have a loaded fixture schedule in the next three weeks. Let's hope they can make it through this stretch in one piece.

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