Dominant performance from Atlanta United, game 3 in Columbus on Sunday: Starting Lineup, November 8
by Jason Longshore
1- What a night, Atlanta United defeated Columbus 4-2 to force Game 3 in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs. Giorgos Giakoumakis led the way with a goal and two assists. Xande Silva, Edwin Mosquera, and Thiago Almada also got on the scoreboard in the win as the team will now prepare for Sunday's showdown in central Ohio. (photo credit: Sofia Cupertino)
2- Tristan Muyumba had his most impressive night in an Atlanta kit last night, bossing the midfield and playing with an intensity and emotion that we haven't seen from him before. He passed at his usual high success rate, but was so active defensively. It was a big reason why Columbus struggled to get from the middle third into the attacking third regularly. Muyumba won 3 of his 6 tackles, had 3 of them in that middle third, and also added 3 blocks of passes. He was also vital on the dribble, carrying the ball further than anyone but Almada and winning 2 of his 3 take-ons. An immense performance from the Frenchman last night.
3- One of Giakoumakis' best moments had nothing to do with the ball, as he was the first to support Xande Silva after his miss of an open goal from six yards out. It was a bad miss at a time when the score was 2-1 and the momentum could have swung Columbus' way. However, Giorgos didn't allow that to happen. He went to Xande to pick his head up and then made the fans do the same. It was a big moment in the match that didn't get away from Atlanta United.
4- Loved the subtle tweak in the midfield to free up Muyumba a bit more with Matheus Rossetto and later Jay Fortune sitting a bit deeper and to the left. Rossetto is massively underrated in his #6 role and what he does for the overall collective, and his secondary assist to set up Lennon for his cross on the opening goal was sublime. Fortune is still growing in confidence on the ball and has become a key contributor as the season has gone on. He's a future starter for this team for sure, and might be on Sunday if Rossetto's calf injury doesn't recover in time.
5- Plenty more to get into ahead of Sunday, but go ahead and log this one down. The radio broadcast will be on Star 94 on Sunday with the 5 Stripes Countdown starting at 6:30pm and kickoff right now is set at 7:09 from Columbus.
6- Nashville's season ended last night as Orlando won 1-0 in the Music City to advance to the conference semifinal and will play the winner of Columbus-Atlanta. Nashville failed to score in 6 of their last 7 games and even in a year where they reached the Leagues Cup final and advanced to the Concacaf Champions League for the first time, it ends in disappointment and maybe half-hearted cries for the temperature on Gary Smith's seat to rise.
Personally, I don't think it's on Smith. They need a forward, they've always needed a forward, and they won't be anything different than what they are until they get that forward signing to work out. I questioned the Sam Surridge signing and still do. I don't think he's the answer and until they get a consistent threat out of that position, they will have a low ceiling. Their problem now is core guys like McCarty and Godoy are getting older and might not be back, and Mukhtar has drawn big interest from other clubs. Can they kick on from here or is it time for a big reset? I'm thinking it's the latter.
7- Charlotte FC "parted ways" with manager Christian Lattanzio this morning, becoming the ninth team in MLS to change managers in 2023. Lattanzio went 22-24-17 in 63 games after taking over midway through the club's inaugural season last year. They struggled to close out results this year, which cost them seeding in their first playoff appearance. They lost on the road in the wild card round to the New York Red Bulls.
This one is a mixed bag in my opinion. I feel like Lattanzio got about what could be expected out of the roster he had to work with, I'm not sure he had all the tools he wanted/needed to be successful. I think he was constantly in a battle of how he wanted to play versus how he had to play to get results. For Charlotte, they will be hiring their third manager ahead of their third season and I think some questions have to be asked of Zoran Krneta (the club's sporting director) of the process they've used to build their club. In my opinion, the roster build has never been coherent and still has to be addressed. They didn't provide Miguel Angel Ramirez wingers for his system and fullback seemed to be a constant issue in 2023 for Lattanzio. And then there's the awkward fit of Karol Swiderski (who is very vocal about wanting out) and Enzo Copetti which made Lattanzio's job even more difficult. Lattanzio paid the price with his job, but I don't think he was fully to blame for Charlotte's lack of overall success.
8- The fact that there are conversations about Xavi's job being in trouble at Barcelona, after winning the La Liga title last season, demonstrates the absurdity of so many of the conversations around the game right now. Just chopping and changing managers after losing two of their last three games in all competitions (which makes them 11-2-3 in all competitions since the start of the season) is a fool's errand. Don't fall for it.
9- Speaking of managerial carousels, Boca Juniors is looking to fill that job as well after Jorge Almirón stepped down following Boca's loss in the Copa Libertadores final. Guillermo Barros Schelotto's name has come up as a legend of the club on the field. His last stint with Paraguay was a struggle as was his time with the LA Galaxy.
10- On this date in 1913, the Atlanta Soccer Club defeated Foote & Davies 3-1 at Piedmont Park in a Georgia State Soccer League match. Rowland Bryce scored two goals for the Atlanta team in the win. The team sponsored by the Foote & Davies Company was a new one put together by the Harland brothers. The company was a leading book printer in the Southeast at the time.
11- On this day in 1998, Robbie Williams' second album I've Been Expecting You went to #1 on the UK charts. The first single took a while to hit the States as part of the US compilation The Ego Has Landed, but was one of the first songs to welcome his solo work to US audiences. Enjoy this live edition of your Song of the Day from Robbie Williams: