Guzan, Atlanta United fail to capitalize on late run
HIGHLIGHTS: Atlanta United at LAFC | July 26, 2019
The reigning champs face off with the top seed in the West in one of the most anticipated matches of the MLS regular season.
There is no doubt that LAFC has risen quickly to be one of the most dominant teams in MLS. When the club began acquiring names like the Deigo Rossi, and Mexican Carlos Vela, it became clear that this new club has its eyes firmly planted on the MLS Cup. With 15 wins and only 4 losses, there is certainly the possibility that Atlanta may have to face off against LAFC for all the marbles.
The game started off well. During the 2nd minute a beautiful ball from a set piece sailed into the box. An intelligent header put the ball at the feet of Mo Adams, who placed the ball right in the upper right corner of the net. The game seemed well in control. Then it all started to crack.
In the 33rd minute Adama Diomande beat Guzan near post from about 8 yards out. There was question of a fractional offside, however when slowed down Diomande is clearly onside, 1-1. The problem I have with this goal is the goalkeeping. We all have heard Ian Clark or Jim Proudfoot during a EPL game exclaim, “No keeper in the world is going to save that.” Well, not only COULD Guzan have saved that, elite goalkeepers SHOULD save that shot. The angle of the shot left Diomade with no option to go far post. Guzan needed to only protect the 3 feet of net that was exposed to his left. Although the ball was struck extremely well; Guzan has the talent to stop that ball.
After the 2nd goal by LAFC it seemed United was deflated. Costly mistakes and giving away possession was happening far too easily, and far too often. Then it was time for the 3rd goal by LAFC. The Mexican National Carlos Vela put in an inviting low cross which was slightly deflected by a United defender, only to land directly in the path of Rossi who first timed the ball directly past Guzan. I feel for goalkeepers as they take the brunt of the blame for many losses. The former American 1st team keeper has had many great years in the Premier League as well as MLS and Liga MX.
The final goal scored by LAFC was completely incorrectly given by way of a penalty kick. Given in the 42nd minute, Carlos Vela easily slotted it away from the spot sending Guzan the wrong way. This penalty should never have taken place. Not only was he not inside of the box, there was no contact coming from the defender in any way. How that is called a penalty in this day in time is really a huge mystery to any person who follows the game religiously.
Guzan seems to have lost a step since he was at his peak. At 34, it seems like that his age is catching up with him. However Guzan is certainly not to blame for every mistake made against LAFC. Three yellow cards were given out. Eric Remedi, LGP, and Justin Meram all received yellow cards during the game. This lack of discipline seems to be a reoccurring theme when the team is down, although they did stage a comeback before the game ended at 3-4.
I really do like Brad Guzan, and I think Atlanta United has fielded a great team after selling Almiron to Newcastle United. Martinez has put away 17 goals so far this year making him 2nd in the MLS. Guzan just seems almost lethargic this year, his second since his progression from Aston Villa to the MLS. Guzan is reliable and has had many great games including 10 shutouts.
The largest worry is that when it gets to the playoffs will he be able to lead us to another title? LAFC is statistically the best team in MLS, so the opponent was not one we could have just walked over. Still we must beg the question: Would it be worth it to spend a significant sum of money on the one player who it could be argued is at least the 3rd most important player on the field? There is only one player in the World that not only do I think Atlanta United could afford, but would make a huge impact not only in Atlanta, but to MLS as a whole. At only 4 years older than Guzan, Iker Casillas still has plenty of ability left in him. The Spaniard has been playing for Porto for the past 3 years after his decades long career at Real Madrid. Adding him to the fold would bring an experience and leadership that would rival any other keeper in the MLS.
United have been plagued by different injuries this season. As everyone gets more and more healthy, higher expectations come back. I wrote 3 years ago that Atlanta United could win the MLS cup in 3 years, and now since that has happened, there is nothing that excites me more than the thought of a dynasty, and I believe multiple championships are more than possible. Ownership has done a phenomenal job up to this point, and I have no doubt they will keep up the pace to bring more cups to Atlanta.