Atlanta capitalized on a late game mental lapse and snuck out of Lockhart with a win.
Johnson (Willis) King (Hassan)
Pecka Gonzalez (Restrepo)
Guerrero Chavez Thomas Guillaume
Mendes (Gulley) Carr (Cruz)
Hunt Navarro Lancaster Bloom
The Strikers came out in a 4-3-1-2 with Stahl holding instead of Pecka who was moved to the left. The similar players King and Johnson were paired at forward, perhaps with the intention of pressuring the Atlanta centerbacks with speed. Guerrero and Guillaume, the now entrenched fullbacks, started outside. And Chavez, the more feisty of the young centerbacks, started to the left of Thomas.
Atlanta came out with 4-3-3 that tended to look more like a 4-5-1 in that Carr and Mendes stayed further back to prevent the advance of the fullbacks. Most of Atlanta’s strategy seemed to be to hoof the ball to Luna and hope for the best.
Early in the game the Strikers dominated possession, especially in the crowded midfield. However, this caused the Strikers’ attack to narrow. The Strikers of two or three years ago would have recognized and shifted the attack to the flanks but the able but aging Guerrero and anxious and unsure Guillaume wouldn’t commit to the attack. Guillaume ventures in particular were lacking vigor. Furthermore, as Gonzalez seemed incapable of switching play, the Strikers found themselves stuck in center channels and were easily thwarted by Atlanta’s centerbacks.
In the second half, Atlanta pushed up Mendes and became in effect a 4-4-1-1. Obviously, they were attempting to reassert control over the middle of the field; indeed, the Strikers ceased to be as dominant with Stahl unable to receive and turn at will. The problems of opening the play led to the substitution of Gonzalez for Restrepo. This change required a shift in formation since Restrepo is not the kind of midfielder for the diamond midfield. The Strikers changed to a 4-2-3-1 with Pecka and Stahl holding the right and left respectively, and Johnson wide left and Restrepo wide right. Eventually Hassan would enter for the hard-running King.
The game seemed headed for a draw when the Strikers were undone. Off a throw-in the Atlanta sub Kellen Gulley turned and found Horace James making a long, off-the-ball run from left side and between Guerrero and Chavez. Thomas and Chavez, caught flat, were slow to react to the run coming across their backs. Glaeser rushed out and, in an attempt to win the ball, took the legs out from James. Glaeser was duped on the penalty, and Atlanta walked away with the game and to the top of the NASL standings.