5 Stripes try to channel frustration versus Columbus, weekend ahead, & more: Starting Lineup, Oct 6
by Jason Longshore
1- Atlanta United hosts Columbus on Saturday in their regular season home finale at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It's a quick return to play after a contentious match in Philadelphia that saw the Union win 3-2 after multiple controversial moments within the 90+ minutes. Philadelphia led 3-0 at halftime, Atlanta stormed back to make it 3-2, but couldn't find the equalizer. (Photo: ATLUTD)
2- Regarding the lack of a penalty given for the incident in the 15th minute, referee Alex Chilowicz answered the pool reporter (Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer) with this response: “In the opinion of the referee, the arm was down and in a natural position when the ball struck it.” I doubt we will get an answer, but my question is how the process went down. Did the VAR Daniel Radford request an on-field review from Chilowicz that was denied, or did the VAR not request that Chilowicz take a look at the video? We know that they discussed it, there was a long period of time for the review and ultimately Chilowicz waved for play to continue. I hope we get an answer to where the process broke down because I think it's borderline impossible to look at that sequence and find agreement with Chilowicz postgame statement. Even Jim Curtin said afterwards that everyone on their bench assumed a penalty would be given.
3- It's sad that there are multiple other situations in the match that created controversy due to the way the referee crew handled them. The management of Philadelphia's free kick that led to their opening goal with Chilowicz engaged in conversation, and apparently reaching for the spray to mark yardage, is not how these incidents should be handled. Refusing to give the final corner kick that Atlanta earned and blowing the final whistle right at the recommended stoppage time amount, after time wasting during those seven minutes, was also not the typical way those moments are handled. It was a very frustrating night and Gonzalo Pineda showed that afterwards with his comments.
I feel like I've said it a lot this season. Game state matters. If Atlanta gets a penalty and/or that free kick is handled differently, we're staring at a very different match. However, before anyone chimes in with "but, but, but...", yes the team needed to dust itself off quicker on Wednesday night. The third goal conceded ended up being the difference and while it was well-worked by the Union, Atlanta has to find a way to hold on for halftime at that point. They gave up two deadly transition moments to a team that thrives on them late in the half that were the difference in the scoreline.
4- All that frustration has to be channeled into a performance on Saturday night with the Columbus Crew coming to town. The Crew won 2-1 in Foxborough on Wednesday night, Diego Rossi scored the opener and assisted on the winning goal from Malte Amundsen in the 86th minute. Right now, Columbus is in 4th place in the East, four points ahead of Atlanta with two games to play. As the table currently sits, Atlanta would play Philadelphia in a best-of-three first round series with the Union holding home field advantage for the (if necessary) third match. Wednesday has to be ammunition for this team for Saturday.
5- The USMNT roster for October friendlies was announced and Miles Robinson will be part of it. They will host Germany in Connecticut next Saturday followed by a match three days later in Nashville against Ghana. The two headlines were the inclusion of Gio Reyna, which had been expected all along and is not a surprise no matter what some try to portray, and the first ever call-up for Lennard Maloney. He has had a great start to his first Bundesliga campaign for Heidenheim, was born in Berlin, and leads all Bundesliga players in the early portion of the season is distance covered in matches.
6- One of the highlights of this weekend across the country will be the final regular season home match for Megan Rapinoe in her NWSL career. OL Reign is trying to hold onto a playoff spot as they host Washington at Lumen Field. So far, over 28,000 tickets have been sold and the match is on course to break the NWSL record for stand-alone attendance for a game. That record is held by San Diego who drew 32,000 fans for its inaugural match last year.
7- Rumors are that Lionel Messi will play for Miami as they host the Supporters' Shield winners Cincinnati Saturday night in Ft. Lauderdale. The Herons need to win or they risk being eliminated from the postseason Saturday night. Messi has been called up by Argentina for their next two World Cup qualifiers, but it is unknown how much he might be able to play at this stage.
8- Big game in the Eastern Conference of the USL Championship on Saturday night as first place Pittsburgh travels to St. Petersburg to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Bob Lilley's Riverhounds are the best defense in the league while the Rowdies sport the best offense. The match kicks off at 7:30pm on ESPN+.
9- Local college updates from last night saw Kennesaw State get their second straight conference win, this time at Fifth Third Bank Stadium as Aila Swinton's second half goal gave the Owls the 1-0 win over Jacksonville. Georgia State lost 2-1 on the road in Sun Belt play at Southern Miss, while Georgia Southern picked up a 3-1 win over Louisiana. Georgia also lost 2-1 in SEC play on the road at Arkansas.
Mercer picked up a SoCon win on the road at VMI, freshman Larkin Thomason scored her 10th goal of the season to open the scoring in the 2-0 win. The Bears have won 3 straight in conference play to move into a tie for second behind Western Carolina.
Life earned a 2-2 draw against the #12 team in the NAIA women's rankings Tennessee Southern. Georgia Gwinnett lost 4-1 to the #1 ranked team William Carey. Point University's women lost to Brewton-Parker, while the Skyhawks men earned some revenge with a win in the nightcap over the Barons.
10- On this day in 2018, George Bello scored his first goal in MLS for Atlanta United as the 5 Stripes defeated the New England Revolution at Mercedes-Benz Stadium 2-1.
11- Born on this day in 1964 in Nebraska, Matthew Sweet broke through the rock charts with "Girlfriend" in 1992. He moved from Lincoln, Nebraska to Athens, Georgia to attend UGA and formed a duo with R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe called Community Trolls and was a member of the band Oh-OK before getting a recording deal with Columbia Records on his own and leaving town. Check out his Under the Covers series with The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs, there's some great collaborations there. My choice for Song of the Day is my favorite of his hits: