It was fairly one-sided game on paper, however a fast break opportunity in the second half shifted the result and Atlanta United fell 2-1 to Inter Miami CF on Sunday.
After the first few minutes of the match went in Inter Miami’s favor, Atlanta United started connecting and finding shapes in the attacking third. Early, midfielders Marcelino Moreno and Thiago Almada combined inside the box. Moreno was tripped up but play continued.
Then on a corner kick by defender Brooks Lennon, striker Ronaldo Cisneros toed in the rebound to put Atlanta ahead 1-0 in the 13th minute.
“One of my teammates was able to flick it on, and I tried to go search for the ball to finish it right away,” Cisneros said. “I wasn’t able to, but luckily the ball fell to me again.”
Cisneros joined the team in March on loan from Chivas in Liga MX. It was his first goal with Atlanta United and first in MLS.
Inter Miami equalized in the 28th minute. Striker Leonardo Campana brought down a cross from defender DeAndre Yedlin and delivered a low, driven shot on a difficult angle with his left foot. The goal was Campana’s fifth in his last four matches.
The second half started with a promising opportunity for the 5-Stripes. Moreno, Cisneros and defender Caleb Wiley connected on some quick clean passes in the 50th minute. The ball eventually found Almada for a shot that required Miami goalkeeper Nick Marsman to make a diving save. The rebound bounced to Lennon on the far post, but Lennon’s attempt missed.
Atlanta United followed it up with another shot on goal in the 53rd minute. Lennon’s short pass into the box found Cisneros, who tried to redirect the ball deceptively with his back heel, but Marsman again came up with the diving block.
In the 63rd minute, Miami took the lead. The attack broke up field after Atlanta United’s errant pass in the midfield, and the fast-developing play led to Inter Miami getting in behind Atlanta’s backline. Campana passed the ball to midfielder Bryce Duke who wide open was left with the easy task of rolling the ball past Atlanta goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.
It looked like Atlanta United might have a chance to equalize in the 80th minute when Lennon appeared to be fouled inside the box, but no penalty was given after VAR review.
“Maybe the first half was a bit more even with both teams having some opportunities to score, but in the second half I think we had the better of the chances,” Cisneros said. “But they were able to score on two plays.”
Overall, Atlanta created better opportunities than Inter Miami. The 5-Stripes crossed the ball 28 times (Miami had 6) and took 10 corner kicks. Atlanta United finished with 20 total shots, seven on goal, and forced Inter Miami to make 34 clearances and six saves.
However, as has been the issue at times before, the team created more chances than the opponent although lacked a finishing touch.
“There were moments in the game where I felt that we had the more dominant side,” head coach Gonzalo Pineda said. “We created enough chances in my opinion. But things like this have happened to us that we just need to be more clinical. And also the goals we are conceding are not up to the standard we want to concede. We just need to do better on both ends.”
Sunday was hot and humid at DRV PNK Stadium located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Given the conditions, Atlanta United wanted to control possession and force Inter Miami to chase. The 5-Stripes were successful in that part of their game plan, possessing over 63 percent and completing over 200 more passes than Miami.
The match marked Shuttleworth’s first start for Atlanta United in MLS play. The veteran goalkeeper replaced Brad Guzan who ruptured his Achilles tendon last weekend in the 0-0 draw with FC Cincinnati.
“He’s steady,” Pineda said. “He’s an experienced goalkeeper and he brought that. I felt that he did a good job in those terms. He didn’t have enough work, to be honest.”
Both clubs entered the week with confidence. Atlanta United scored six goals during their midweek U.S. Open Cup match against Chattanooga FC. On the other side, Inter Miami entered Sunday’s match on a two-match winning streak and also won their U.S. Open Cup match over Miami FC.
Now, Inter Miami has won four consecutive matches while Atlanta United looks to turn things around with its final road trip of the month against CF Montréal.
“The path for this team is just continue to do the things that we’re doing, to have the majority of possession, to try and create those chances,” Cisneros said. “And if we do that, sooner or later, the goals will come.”