Not the ideal result, but at least we didn't lose.
The MLS game week kicked off with an eight-goal thriller between Minnesota United and the Portland Timbers that had excitement every minute until the end, but what followed was... less than thrilling. It was actually kind of boring.
Atlanta United played Chicago Fire to a scoreless draw at Soldier Field. While the Five Stripes didn't lose, the on-field product certainly merited a loss as we saw more of the same happening this season.
The lineup that Gonzalo Pineda decided to roll out was... interesting. He started both Ronaldo Cisneros and Josef Martínez with the former playing as a winger even though he has never shown proficiency in that position. As expected, the Mexican forward was nearly invisible throughout that match. Pineda once again opted for the same back three that he has used in the last three games but didn't play Aiden McFadden as a right wing back. He instead pulled Luiz Araújo back to play as a sort of right midfielder with Caleb Wiley mirroring him on the left side. Thiago Almada started in the attacking midfield role supported by a double pivot of Santiago Sosa and Matheus Rossetto.
Atlanta started off on the front foot, playing some good attacking soccer even if it was mostly dependent on moments of individual brilliance. The defense once again drastically underperformed and was lucky not to concede on several occasions. The half drew to a close when some good link-up play got Almada within yards of the goal, but the young Argentine put it wide.
The second half saw the worst from Atlanta United. The Fire dominated the possession and created several goal-scoring opportunities including a Xherdan Shaqiri goal that was called back for an offside. Pineda made a few... interesting substitutions. He took off George Campbell, who was actually playing pretty well, to sub on McFadden and then waited until the 80th minute to bring on Andrew Gutman to support the left side that was getting constantly bombarded as a result of Wiley's poor defensive play. The game dragged on, but neither side managed to break the tie.
Atlanta finished the game with 13 shots to Chicago's 15. Of those 13 shots, just two were on target. Chicago also won the xg battle with 1.85 over Atlanta's 1.40. The team's gaping chasm in midfield was often exploited and their slow build-up and lack of chemistry were once again on display for all to see.
With all of Saturday's results in the books, Atlanta is still four points from the playoff line with 12 games remaining. It will try to narrow that gap at home against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. Kickoff will be at 3:08 P.M.