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Andrew Gutman: It’s kind of just the same old story again

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Andrew Gutman spits the truth every time he gets on the mic. Don’t get it twisted, he’s not dogging the team, he’s just living through the same exact emotions as anyone reading this article. Frustration.

The amount of frustration amongst the Atlanta United fans and players seems to increase tenfold after matches like the one that went down at State Saputo in Montreal yesterday. A 2-1 loss is yet another result that feels like a missed opportunity. The Five Stripes seem to always be one “tweak” away from breaking free and turning their dominant possession into results, but it just hasn’t happened. From a fan/supporter/writer perspective, it almost feels worse than just having a bad team; Atlanta has the majority of the battle won in terms of playing attacking soccer and they genuinely look good playing out of the back and moving the ball up the pitch. But that final ball just isn’t there, and so everyone is left with a lot of “what should’ve been” emotions.

If you don’t typically read many of the full quotes by Pineda and the players after matches, this one may be one you don’t want to skip. I think it’s fair to say Gonzo is probably the most frustrated of anyone, and Andrew Gutman and Bobby Shuttleworth do an outstanding job of putting into words just how anyone with a connection to Atlanta United is feeling. Appreciate their “realness” and glean from the press conference what you will, but when a locker room begins to get this frustrated it tends to be either extremely good or extremely bad. The players love Pineda and they seem to have truly bought in to his system, so maybe that moment of clarity, that “aha” moment, is coming? One can’t help but feel that once that moment happens, it’ll be glorious, but the current reality is that Atlanta seems to be sipping on a bottle of luck that’s run dry.

Check out the quotes below and as usual we’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts. What does the team change/tweak/do differently?

Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda

His thoughts on the match

“I think there is some frustration, obviously, because of the result but also because I don’t think the performance of the team was one that deserved to lose the game. I think that we certainly dominated the game, we certainly were in control of the game but we couldn’t finalize a good result due to the lack of the final product in both boxes. I think that we need to do better in the very limited times that the opposition is in our box. We need to do much better. And the many times we are around the box we need to create more. So, I think that’s going to be the emphasis this week before preparing for Chicago but we’re disappointed for giving away a game that again, I think we should have won.”

On the team’s issues defending set pieces this season

“I think set pieces is a topic. It’s about concentration, it’s about working as a team on a very specific play, but also we have to face that many teams in MLS have more tall guys than us. And we want to play in a very specific way and not really a lot on set pieces but there are certainly teams that have probably taller players attacking set pieces and that is difficult to defend. I think the way we try to defend is not conceding a lot of set pieces, having the ball a lot in the opposite half, but the few that we are allowing every game at time become dangerous. I think we need to review, check why, also at times we need to give credit to the opposition. Their delivery was very good and at times it’s hard to defend those types of balls. I don’t rely a lot on that but I think we can improve on that side.”

On if he’s considering any potential changes to the lineup next week

“We have to check the film. I think now we are obviously upset and frustrated about the result and it’s hard to make an assessment like that when there are too many days away from the next match. What we’re going to do is check the film. What we did very well, what we are missing to get the results and then we will try to work during the week and come up with the best lineup to face Chicago.”

On his message to the team at halftime after dominating the possession

“I said that we need to continue with the same style, same ideas. I felt that we were very good at playing between the lines, very good at our build up and disrupting their pressure in the middle, something that is not easy to do against a team like Monteal. It’s a very good side and it’s hard to break at times. And I felt the team did that very well. After that, in the final third I felt that we were not maybe sharp in the final pass, that we tried making the runs in behind and to really create dangerous chances for us but the few that we created we missed and that was the story of the game. So, my message at halftime was just try to continue with the same style, with the same ideas, with a little bit more belief. I think with Marcelino’s goal that’s what the team did. We started to believe we were in control and it was just a little moment of too many set pieces that we gave away and they got their momentum that lead to their goal.”

Atlanta United defender Andrew Gutman

On if he has the same feeling after this match as other recent matches

“It’s kind of just the same old story again. I felt, again, we were the better team by a mile, but we just switch off for a couple moments during the game. They score on a set piece and then they score on, basically a recycled set piece, as well. We play so well for 89 minutes of the game. We’re the better team. We’re keeping them pinned in. We’re pushing the tempo, creating chances, all that stuff. We just switch off for a moment and it hurts us. I think, for us, it’s just completing a full 90 minutes. No mental lapses, no mistakes and we’ll start getting wins.”

On the team’s defense of set pieces

“I think it’s just a lack of fight, a lack of mentality that ‘I’m going to win this ball over you. I’m going to fight, push, battle to win the header and clear the lines.’ I think that’s what is hurting us right now because we don’t have enough attitude where ‘I’m going to get the ball before you and you’re not going to have a chance.’”

On if losses like this deplete the team of confidence

“It’s so early in the season, it’s only nine games in. I think now, we’ve got to come together more as a group and become more of a family. We just have to fight for each other in those moments that team are looking for in the game. We play a lot of teams, especially in this game, Montreal had nothing in the attack. They were almost trying to play for set pieces and that was going to be their attack, because we controlled most of the game. I think we’ve got to go back to what the badge actually means. We’re not a team that just is okay being in MLS, maybe making the playoffs, just playing our game. This is Atlanta United, we want to play for trophies. We want to win trophies. I think that’s just the little edge that we’re missing. We just have to motivate ourselves, whether that’s just pushing each other in training a little bit harder on the field. Covering for each other if someone makes a mistake. Things are going to happen in the games over the course of 90 minutes, you just have to have your teammate behind you, if you mess up, that they’re going to cover for you. I think once that happens, we’re going to start turning and we’re going to get on a roll. I think this will be a completely different conversation at the end of every game.”

Atlanta United goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth

On what happened on the goals

“On the first goal, we set our lines. A good ball whipped into the top of the area. Set pieces are clearly something we need to work on and we work on it in training, we go over it. Something we need to continue to work on and hammer out the problems. We’re moving in a positive direction. But that for sure, it’s something that we definitely need to continue to look at and find solutions on the field, because we train it. We’ve got to do better in those areas. The second goal, I couldn’t really comment on what happened too much. I’d have to watch back, I’ve not watched back yet, so I’ll have to watch the video again and see.”

On what matches like this does for the team’s confidence

“These games definitely hurt. You’re not going to find a guy in that locker room that’s pleased with the way things are going right now. We dominated long, long stretches of the game and possessed the ball for long stretches of the game. Unlucky in front of goal offensively and then concede where we shouldn’t concede, we come away with zero points. It’s a long season. This is game nine, so it is positive the way that we’re playing. We’re creating chances, we’re dominating possession. There are definitely positives to move forward with. That being said, there are definitely things that we need to button up, look at and continue to work at in training and try to solve these problems. Because at the end of the day, it’s about winning games and the last two results we’ve probably had the best of the games and came away zero points. Something’s got to change there.”

On how Alan Franco looked in his return to the starting 11

“Great on the ball, picks up some good spots, he’s aggressivie, wins good tackles. I think for us, in the back, it’s about communicating as much as possible, continuing to try and help each other, pick up good spots, and prevent teams trying to hit us on the counter. That seems to be the way that we’re getting played right now, is that teams are trying to soak up our pressure and hit us on the counter. That being said, I think we did that really well today. We prevented them from countering us at any point. I think he definitely did well. We look to him to play the ball well out the back and continuing to be aggressive.”

As usual, if you get a bit of time go take a listen to our post-match Twitter Spaces. Guaranteed you’ll emerge on the other side with either a bunch of new takes or none at all, but either way you’ll have fun.



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Match Recap & Highlights: Portland Timbers 0 – 2 Philadelphia Union

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After a defensive collapse midweek against the San Jose Earthquakes, the Portland Timbers drop a second game in five days with a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union. Philadelphia opened the scoring in the fifth-minute via a Daniel Gazdag overhead kick that caught Aljaz Ivacic flat-footed on his goal line. The Timbers would then have to replace an injured Eryk Williamson in the 14th minute with Santiago Moreno.

After a disjointed opening 25 minutes to the half the Timbers grew into the game decently, bolstered by the lively play of Moreno. But despite the Timbers working their way back into the match, the Union doubled their lead in the 48th minute through a Sergio Santos header. Sebastian Blanco thought he had pulled a goal back for the Timbers in the 69th minute, but after a lengthy VAR review, the goal was disallowed for an offside in the buildup.

In the end, the two goals were enough for the Union to leave Providence Park with all three points.

  • 5’ The Timbers started the game in the worst possible way when Daniel Gazdag scored an overhead kick within five minutes of the game’s start.
  • The next 10 minutes were one-way Philly traffic, and the Timbers were lucky not to concede another in that span. To make matters worse, Eryk Williamson went down with an injury in the 14th minute and had to be replaced by Santiago Moreno.
  • 18’ Nathan Harriel was shown the first yellow card of the match for the Union for a poor foul on Sebastian Blanco.
  • 21’ The Union should have made it 2-0 when Julian Carranza got a free-header onto a floated cross into the box. Fortunately for Portland, the chance went sailing over the bar.
  • 27’ The Timbers’ best chance of the first half came from Bill Tuiloma just before the half-hour mark. A poor corner from Yimmi Chara hit the first man, but possession was regained by Moreno who then floated a wonderful cross to the center back, but the Timbers’ top-scorer couldn’t direct his header on target.
  • 42’ The Timbers again went close to scoring just before halftime and again the creative spark was Santiago Moreno. The forward received the ball on the edge of the box after a well-worked team move, but couldn’t keep his curling shot under the bar.
  • 43’ Diego Chara received a yellow card for a foul on Jose Martinez.
  • 45+5’ Justin Rasmussen received the ball on his left and un-corked a strike from outside the box, but couldn’t get the placement right and the shot sailed out for a goal kick.
  • The first half ended Timbers 0 – Union 1, with Philadelphia out-shooting the Timbers 10-3 despite Portland controlling just-shy of 66 percent of the possession.
  • 48’ The Union began the second half just as they started the match and doubled their lead through a Sergio Santos header to make the score 2-0 in favor of the visitors.
  • 66’ Justin Rasmussen and Cristhian Paredes were replaced by Larrys Mabiala and Marvin Loria. The Timbers switched to three at the back after the changes, with Josecarlos Van Rankin and Marvin Loria playing as the wing backs.
  • 69’ Just when it looked like another night where the Timbers failed to find the back of the net, Sebastian Blanco pulled a goal back for the Timbers after a shot from Moreno rebounded directly into his path. However, upon VAR review, the goal was disallowed for offside in the buildup.
  • 80’ David Ayala entered the match for Van Rankin.
  • 90’ The Timbers’ top-scorer Bill Tuiloma nearly made it 2-1 in the final minute of regular time, but Union ‘keeper Andre Blake pulled out a massive stop to keep his clean sheet in-tact.
  • Six minutes of stoppage time were added to the end of the second half after the lengthy VAR review for Blanco’s disallowed goal.
  • 90+6’ Zac McGraw replaced Dario Zuparic deep into stoppage time.
  • The game finished 2-0 in favor of the Union.

The Timbers travel across the country for their next fixture against Inter Miami on Saturday, May 28. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00.



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Portland Timbers shut down by Philadelphia Union in 2-0 home defeat; coach Giovanni Savarese rumored to be joining Venezia

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In a showcase of one of Major League Soccer’s top defensive sides, the Philadelphia Union locked down the Portland Timbers 2-0 on Sunday night at Providence Park.

“A frustrating result,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “What differentiated this game from one team to the other is Philadelphia scored two goals, and we couldn’t find the net. We have created chances, but at the end of the day, they took advantage of the two or three moments that they had. Philly is a difficult team to play against. If you don’t have a constant energy, they never stop. Credit to them to the fact they found two goals that was the decisive separation for them.”

The Union (6-1-6, 24 points) dominated the shorthanded Timbers (3-5-6, 15 points) in the first half, displaying why they are the leading team in the Eastern Conference with stifling defensive play all night. Philadelphia opened the scoring early, too, in a spectacular moment.

Daniel Gazdag’s bicycle kick made it 1-0 Union early, silencing the Providence Park crowd.

Philadelphia continued to lurk in the attacking third, but nothing came of their immediate chances. In the 15th minute, the Timbers suffered what could be a serious loss as midfielder Eryk Williamson came off the field due to injury, shaking his head in frustration. He was replaced by Santiago Moreno.

“Sometimes, you come to a moment when it hits you,” Savarese said. “All of the sudden you have injuries, you have health situations that prevent you from having a full roster. It’s frustrating not to have everybody available. Eryk I don’t think will be available for this weekend (against Miami). He was very smart to come out of the game before he suffered something more difficult to handle. I think it will be something that won’t be too long.”

At 23 minutes in, the Union led 8-0 in shots. Portland’s first shot of the night came on a Bill Tuiloma header in the 27th minute on the feed from Moreno, but it went wide left.

In the 41st minute, Moreno had an ambitious take of his own from just outside the box, and it ended up just high of goal.

A moment of intense disagreement arrived in the 44th minute as Diego Chara was given a yellow card for a challenge in which he led with his head, and multiple players from both teams jawed at one another (and the officials) in the aftermath.

“I feel frustrated in that moment,” Diego Chara said. “In my opinion, it was a 50-50 ball, and we crashed. I don’t know why I got that. It’s a target always from the referees when they give me a yellow card. I didn’t deserve that yellow card, but it’s nothing to do.”

The match officials described Chara’s card as a “reckless challenge.”

Portland went into halftime looking outmatched on every level. That trend continued in the opening minutes of the second half.

Philadelphia doubled its lead in the 48th minute on a header from Sergio Santos, making it 2-0 Union as the road side’s defense continued to limit anything Portland tried to put together.

In the 65th minute, Portland brought on Larrys Mabiala and Marvin Loría to replace Justin Rasmussen and Cristhian Paredes. The Timbers’ attack soon found renewed life as Loría pushed the ball ahead to Moreno, whose shot was saved.

Unfortunately for the Union, the ball fell right to the feet of Sebastian Blanco, who put it in the back of the net in the 69th minute. It was called a goal initially and Philadelphia’s lead appeared halved, but after further review by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), it was disallowed due to offsides.

“Santiago Moreno was in an offside position when his teammate Josecarlos Van Rankin heads the ball to him,” the match officials said postgame. “The VAR was trying to establish if indeed, there was a touch by Josecarlos Van Rankin. Once the VAR found an angle which allowed him to confirm this touch, he recommended a review for an offside offence (sic) in the build up to the goal.”

In the 80th minute, Portland brought on youngster David Ayala for Josecarlos Van Rankin, adding another attacking talent as it desperately sought to break through for a goal.

Yimmi Chara had a chance from close range in the 86th minute, and Tuiloma had one of his own in the 90th minute, but both were saved. Beyond that, Portland had little to offer in the way of dangerous comeback scoring attempts. Philadelphia simply parked the bus in the second half, and the Timbers couldn’t often see past it, despite 12 shots and 11 corners. Philadelphia had the same number of shots and just five corners.

“Difficult match,” Diego Chara said. “We tried to win the game, but it was going in the wrong way. Philly did a good job. For us, it was difficult when we conceded that goal in the (5th) minute, and that changed our plans.”

Portland’s next match is Saturday on the road at Miami. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. PT (TV on Fox 12 Plus).

Savarese to Venezia?

Before kickoff Sunday night, Italian journalist Nicolò Schira reported that Italian club Venezia has selected Savarese as its new manager. The Timbers, in response to this report, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that “Gio (Savarese) is under contract for 1.5 more years and we have not been contacted by Venezia.”

After the match against Philadelphia, Savarese didn’t provide a clear yes or no answer to The Oregonian/OregonLive’s question about the report.

“I’d rather talk about the game today,” Savarese said. “This is the most important thing. I am the coach of the Portland Timbers, and this was a tough game to digest.”

To a follow-up question asking if he’d been in contact with Venezia, Savarese replied, “I’d rather stay on the game. I think that’s the most important part for today.”

— Ryan Clarke, rclarke@oregonian.com





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Pride Make Late Rally But Fall To Chicago Red Stars, 4-2

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ORLANDO, Fla. (May 22, 2022) – Orlando Pride (2-2-1, 5 points) fell by a score of 4-2 to the Chicago Red Stars (2-1-0, 6 points) on Sunday night at Exploria Stadium, in what served as the side’s third game in eight days. 

The Pride scored two goals in the second half, first from the head of defender Amy Turner and then the foot of forward Leah Pruitt, both notching their first goals as a member of the Pride. Orlando had an opportunity to add another in the 81st-minute, but Sydney Leroux’s penalty attempt was stopped by Alyssa Naeher. 

Goalkeeper Erin McLeod finished with five saves on the night. 

Orlando Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell:

“Obviously, we had tired legs. We had three games this week and they did not. There is still no excuse for that. We rested players [at the midweek] so we would be ready for this game. We had multiple players get minutes on the Wednesday game. The lack of energy is inexcusable. I really want to apologize to our home crowd because they deserve better when they come out to see us. You saw some of that energy at the end when we get two goals and also had a penalty. Their penalty, I don’t know, I was too far away to see really what happened. Even with all that, it is a penalty or a non-penalty away from being three-three, which is crazy.”

11’ – Sarah Griffith (Vanessa DiBernardo) – CHI 1, ORL 0

The Red Stars opened the scoring early after the ball was played through to Vanessa DiBernardo who took it to the end line and cut it across the face of the goal. Sarah Griffith was there and had her initial shot blocked up in the air, but Griffith was able to get her head to the ball and knock it over the line. 

54’ – Bianca St-Georges (Mallory Pugh) – CHI 2, ORL 0

Chicago doubled their lead in the second half after Mallory Pugh played a ball in behind the Pride’s backline finding Bianca St-Georges who fired it into the side net from a tight angle. 

64’ – Mallory Pugh (Ava Cook) – CHI 3, ORL 0

The Red Stars extended its lead after Pugh received the pass from Ava Cook and dribbled it to the top of the box, striking it with her right foot into the bottom right corner of the goal. 

83’ – Amy Turner (Courtney Petersen) – CHI 3, ORL 1

The Pride pulled one back after Sydney Leroux was fouled just outside the box after a nice run of play. Courtney Petersen took the free kick and sent it to the back post where it found Amy Turner who was able to head the ball past a diving Chicago goalkeeper. 

86’ – Mallory Pugh (Penalty Kick) – CHI 4, ORL 1

Chicago was awarded a penalty kick late in the second half and Pugh stepped up to take it. Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod saved the initial penalty shot but the rebound fell right in front of Pugh and she was able to tap in the rebound. 

87’ – Leah Pruitt (Abi Kim) – CHI 4, ORL 2

Orlando found the back of the net for the second time of the night after Abi Kim took on two defenders from the wing and put the ball to the feet of Leah Pruitt who was able to turn and send a rocket with her right foot to the inside of the opposite goal post and into the net. 

  • Amy Turner’s goal marked her first goal in the NWSL
  • Leah Pruitt’s was her first in Pride uniform, and fifth across all NWSL competitions
  • Courtney Petersen recorded her third assist in regular season play with the service on Turner’s goal
  • With the helper on Pruitt’s score, Abi Kim recorded her first assist of the year and second in regular season play
  • After earning her first start on the road at the midweek, midfielder Viviana Villacorta made her first career start at Exploria Stadium on Sunday night. 
  • Head Coach Amanda Cromwell made five changes to her starting lineup from the midweek, with Courtney Petersen, Toni Pressley, Gunny Jónsdóttir, Darian Jenkins and Leah Pruitt all getting back in the Starting XI. 

Next Match: The Pride go up against the Washington Spirit on Friday, May 27. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET at Exploria Stadium, with the match aired nationally on CBS Sports Network.





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