Cincinnati flips the script on Atlanta United, MLS midweek madness: Starting Lineup, August 31
by Jason Longshore
Thanks to everyone who has been checking out the Starting Lineup each morning. My idea with it is to try to hit the highlights of what's going on in the soccer world, especially our local soccer community, and spotlight some stories that maybe need some extra attention or context. Share it with your friends and hopefully it's a good start to your day!
1- Atlanta United started well against the Supporters' Shield leaders Cincinnati at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, got the opening goal from Edwin Mosquera's close range rocket, but couldn't find the second goal or quell Cincinnati's building momentum in the second half. Luciano Acosta leveled the match on a brilliant individual effort and Brandon Vazquez put home Alvaro Barreal's cross to win the match and clinch Cincinnati's playoff spot before August is done.
2- I said on Saturday on the Full Time Report that this game was an important test. The test was not passed, but it also isn't the final exam. Lessons have to be learned from this one as Atlanta United has more big games before the regular season ends and will have playoff games to play.
The 5 Stripes have to play their game, not the opponent's. They can't lose their identity inside the match. Last night, once Cincinnati started ratcheting up the pressure, Atlanta went along with trying to play a transition based game rather than holding some possession and making Cincinnati come chase them. The Orange & Blue are a good pressing team. They don't let you build up play easily. However, you can't abandon your identity to play their game, they will beat you at that.
3- On Saturday, Atlanta heads out to Texas for the first time since 2018 to face FC Dallas in Frisco. Dallas lost in St. Louis last night, and lost their starting goalkeeper Marten Paes to a first half red card. Lawrenceville's own Jimmy Maurer came in to replace him and will likely start on Saturday. Dallas is currently in the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, trying to hold off their in-state rivals Austin who is one point back. They're 7-3-2 at home. Jesus Ferreira is expected to be back for Saturday night after recovering from Covid, per Dallas manager Nico Estevez.
4- Nashville bounced back from their pummeling in Atlanta to keep Miami off the board last night in a 0-0 draw. Elliot Panicco made a big kick save late against Lionel Messi to help earn the point. The Herons are now 10 points back from the final playoff spot, with 10 games left to play and four teams between them and Chicago (the final wild card team). I didn't feel comfortable with the sudden narrative that Miami is unbeatable and that they would obviously make the playoffs, and I'm not exactly comfortable with the whiplash of now giving them no chance. It's always been a long shot and it still is. Saturday, we'll find out if they go cross country and get a result against LAFC. Chicago has to go to DC, who is two points behind them in the playoff chase.
5- In other results last night... NYC picked themselves up off the mat to beat Montreal at home 2-0. Manager Nick Cushing threw some shade at Maxime Chanot for leaving the club to return to Europe and Chanot returned the favor on social media. New England is trying to re-solidify themselves as the second best team in the East after a 1-0 win against the Red Bulls. Philadelphia inexplicably lost to Toronto at BMO Field, the Reds hadn't won since May. Vancouver went to Chicago and won 1-0 on an early goal from Brian White. BennyBall is still thriving in Houston as the Dynamo beat the visiting Columbus Crew 2-0. Seattle won on the road in Austin 2-1. The LA Galaxy also won on the road, 3-2 in San Jose as LA keeps their playoff hopes alive in the West.
6- Boca Juniors became the first team in the history of the Copa Libertadores to advance to the semifinals without winning a knockout round game in regulation. Manager Jorge Almirón said, "It matters how, but you have to win." Boca have somehow done that after two scoreless draws with Racing and then winning the penalty shootout. The Round of 16 saw them advance in penalties after a 2-2 aggregate draw with Nacional. The semifinal with Palmeiras might not be exciting due to the offense on display, but the drama should be off the charts.
7- The Champions League draw comes up at noon this afternoon. Two wild cards in the various pots for the draw are Feyenoord and Newcastle. Due to Manchester City winning both the Champions League and Premier League last year, that opened up a spot in Pot 1 that Feyenoord took. They would be the likely weakest of the top seeds since they are moving up from Pot 3. Newcastle will be in Pot 4 since it is their first European competition in 11 years. Whichever group gets the Magpies will likely be the Group of Death due to their quality.
8- The new stoppage-time rules that English soccer has enacted this season to avoid time wasting are "absurd" and will not be used in UEFA competitions, Zvonimir Boban, the European governing body's chief of football, said on Wednesday. Always great to see officials in the various governing bodies of world soccer contradicting each other. (Reuters)
9- One of the most surprising moves of the end of the transfer window could be in Brighton where it appears that they'll add Barcelona's Ansu Fati on a one-year loan with no purchase option. Roberto De Zerbi has requested Fati, called him multiple times according to reports to sell him on the project, and Brighton will pick up around 80% of his salary. It hasn't been explained this way, but there's also the factor of this potentially helping Barcelona with their financial issues.
10- Luckily Atlanta United is not playing Philadelphia on August 31 this year since they're lost twice to the Union in Chester on this date. Last year's 4-1 loss was preceeded by a 3-1 loss in 2019 where the team ran out of gas in the second half as a busy schedule caught up with them.
11- Van Morrison was born on this day in 1945 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He began his career as a teenager in the late 1950's and continues to regularly release albums today. It reached #10 on the charts when released in 1967, it's not one of his favorite songs, but today's Song of the Day has become Van Morrison's signature song and is still the most played and downloaded song from the decade of the 1960's.