Brad Guzan isn’t sole reason for Atlanta United’s backline issues

The Morning Shift breaks down The Five Stripes ongoing defensive problems

“This team is nowhere near as deep as it once was in the past when they were competing and winning MLS Cups in the backend.”

Beau Morgan had that to say earlier today on The Morning Shift after Atlanta United came back from a 2-0 deficit and eventually took a 3-2 lead over New England Revolution last night only to give up a stoppage time equalizer to the Revolution.

Brad Guzan did not have a very good performance last night, and The Morning Shift had no problem admitting such. There’s no doubt Guzan hasn’t been great since returning from a torn MCL in his left knee, but The Five Stripes issues do not start and end with their goalkeeper.

While the tweet above seems like it’s a direct indictment on Atlanta’s goalkeeping, the backline deserves some criticism as well because backline players being out of position, not having the proper men marked, and not winning duels also leads to opposing teams scoring goals along with poor goalkeeping.

However, goalkeeping is still a problem for United. Having only allowed 60 shots against them this season, Atlanta is tied for sixth-best in MLS, and that’s with other teams above them having played fewer games. United has allowed 19.4 expected goals against (xGA), but has only conceded 28 this year.

Brad Guzan’s shot saving percentage this season is down about 10% from his career percentage. Goalkeeping data also shows Atlanta has been pretty unfortunate in terms of shots finding the corners against them, and no team is more likely to concede when a shot is on target than Atlanta United.

Mike Johnson said it best this morning when he said “you have quality players that are not playing at a quality level on the defensive end”, and it’s a shame because this team is so talented and dangerous on offense, but defensive lapses at the most inopportune times has Atlanta sitting lower on the Eastern Conference table than they should be.

Brad Guzan, Miles Robinson, Brooks Lennon, Andrew Gutman, and Juan José Purata all have to step up individually and collectively as a unit if the The Five Stripes want to reach their MLS Cup potential.

Featured Image Photo Credit: © Brett Davis | 2023 Apr 1