Regular season home finale for Atlanta United today, your Saturday notes: Starting Lineup, Oct 7
by Jason Longshore
1- Final regular season home match for Atlanta United tonight at the Benz as they host the team in the playoff spot that they want, 4th place Columbus. The Crew have had Atlanta's number on the road lately, they are the only team in history to win three straight matches at the Benz and they look for their fourth straight tonight. Atlanta is 1-6-1 against Columbus in their last eight meetings.
2- Gonzalo Pineda spoke to the media yesterday and talked about how much respect he has for Wilfried Nancy and the game model of the Crew. The two teams have many similarities in their approach, in their patterns, and in how they try to manufacture chances. It's a very different kind of test than what we saw in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Diego Rossi and Julian Gressel have fit in well after joining in the summer window as the team is looking more and more like the one that Nancy would have envisioned when he took the job. Atlanta will have to disrupt the midfield box of Aidan Morris, Darlington Nagbe, Alexandru Matan, and Rossi. They'll also have opportunities to attack in behind Gressel, especially if Caleb Wiley picks his spots to get forward.
3- Brooks Lennon can be instrumental in tonight's tactics because by tucking inside he can help Atlanta's midfield match Columbus (or staying wider when Rossi or Matan flare outside), but he can also get in behind Columbus' wing back Yaw Yeboah when attacking and pull Columbus' structure apart. It's a delicate dance, but if Lennon can pick read the game effectively, he can essentially nullify two key elements of the Crew.
4- Columbus comes into tonight's match after a 2-1 win in New England on Wednesday night. Diego Rossi opened the scoring in the first half, the Revs found an early second half equalizer, but Malte Amundsen scored the winner in the 86th minute on an assist from Rossi to win it for Columbus.
5- Lionel Messi is expected to take part in tonight's Inter Miami match as they host FC Cincinnati. It's essentially must-win territory for Miami at this stage, they are five points behind 9th place Montreal with three games to play. It's a tough spot for Cincinnati as they have nothing to play for at the moment, but have to keep their intensity and sharpness up to prepare for the playoffs, but then that will get disrupted by next week's international break. Curious to see tonight's lineup from Pat Noonan.
6- DC United has their regular season finale tonight, they're off on Decision Day, and they have to beat NYCFC to have a chance to get into the wild card round. A win would take them to 40 points. It could also be Wayne Rooney's last game in charge, he has a mutual option to return and according to his last public statements on it, there have been no discussions with the club about 2024 and beyond.
7- Chicago's win over Miami has them in 8th on 40 points, they host Charlotte tonight in an essential game for both teams. Charlotte got a much needed win over Toronto in the mid-week and could find themselves with two matches against an already eliminated Miami to close out the season. If Charlotte wins their last three games, and they're all winnable, they are into the postseason for the first time.
8- Minnesota announced yesterday that they were moving on from Adrian Heath with two games to play in the regular season and the Loons three points out of the wild card spots. If they win both and get in I'll be proven wrong (like I was with Portland firing Savarese when they did), but this feels harsh to Heath. He's the only manager Minnesota has ever had, I can't imagine that this gives the team a spark in a short turnaround from a Wednesday match at LAFC to coming back home tonight to face the Galaxy. Again, we'll see how it shakes out and I've thought it was time for the Loons to move on for a couple of years now, but do it in a respectful manner.
9- Tottenham completes a 1-0 win this morning, holding onto the three points on the road at Luton Town. Ange Postecoglou's Spurs have picked up 20 points from their first 8 games, their best start since 1960. Luton had their chances to earn a result, and had a man advantage for the entire second half and a Yves Bissouma red card in first half stoppage time.
10- Reports surfaced on this day in 1968 that Charlie Finley, owner of baseball's Oakland A's, was interested in launching a North American Soccer League expansion team in Birmingham, Alabama. Nothing ever came of it, but Finley in soccer would have been fascinating at that time.
11- On this day in 1989, Paula Abdul's debut album Forever Your Girl finally reached #1 on the Billboard charts. It set a record for the longest climb to #1, taking 64 weeks after the album was released. The first single was one of my favorite songs as a kid and it is your Song of the Day: