Rocket City Refresher: Huntsville lose 3-2 to Atlanta United 2

Much like a few weeks ago, this one is gonna start with an apology, and an explanation. It’s been quite a hectic week in my household, everyone has been sick on and off, so that’s why this is so late.

It also didn’t seem to make sense to call it a recap this late in the process, so we’re going to keep it a bit more brief so we can pivot to a preview of Sunday’s game against Orlando City B.To refresh your mind on how the Atlanta game went before we talk about that, let’s dive in.

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The lineup for Huntsville switched to a 4-3-3, with Sergi Orriol joining Izzy Johnston and Isaiah Jones in the midfield.

Tomas Ritondale made his first start at left back, while Fernando Ciceron and Chris Applewhite were the centerback pairing, and Faiz Opande was on the right.In the forward line, Adem Sipić was the lone striker flanked by Jonathan Bolaños and Cannon Scretchen, who made his first start of the season as well.

For much of the early parts of the game, it looked ugly. Atlanta bagged two goals in the 30th and 53rd minutes respectively, to kick things off.The first came from a horrid giveaway by Isaiah Jones, and then a great finish from outside the box by Atlanta’s Javier Armas.

It was the kind of mistake Jones seemed to have largely rooted out, after such mistakes were concerningly frequent to begin the season. However, a mistake is a mistake, and Huntsville can’t afford them right now.

The second goal came courtesy of a botched clearance off a set piece, allowing Miles Hadley to finish. It was not long after this point, when head coach Christophe Berra made a change.

At the hour mark, off came Adem Sipic and Isaiah Jones. Into the game came new signing Tyler Pasnik from Rangers B in Scotland, and Forster Ajago, finally making his return from injury, having missed the last six.It wouldn’t take long for Ajago, as a Jonathan Bolaños pullback found him to break a scoring drought that lasted exactly 300 minutes.

Huntsville kept up the pressure, but another set piece allowed Karim Tmimi to make it three for the visitors in the 88th minute.

The Boys in Blue refused to die however, scoring themselves two minutes later. Tyler Pasnik let fly from about 35 yards, forcing the keeper to parry onto the post, and a friendly bounce found Ajago to lessen the deficit to one once more.

Ajago had another clear opportunity in the 93rd minute, which was saved, and unfortunately that would be that.

The result still wasn’t there, but there were actually a wealth of positives to take into account as we shift to preview mode.Sunday, Huntsville travels to Orlando City B, in a rematch of March 22nd’s contest which saw Orlando win in the Rocket City on penalties.

If Ajago, Pasnik and Bolaños can link up the way they did the last half hour of the Atlanta game, things could get scary. This also allows Adem Sipić to return to a more supplemental role, which should genuinely help him. Sometimes overuse can really damage a player’s form, and I think that might be the case here. With so many injuries, more and more of the load was placed on Sipić, who just isn’t ready to shoulder it yet.

As a complementary piece however, he should find the time and space to make things happen.Tomas Ritondale also played very well at left back, so I expect he’ll be there for a while at least until Joey Skinner is healthy.

Could things finally be looking up for Huntsville? Maybe, but it is important to retain the knowledge that one game is not a trend. Two, or even three games may be indicative of further long term improvement, but we’re not there yet.

Author: Ronan Briscoeis a contributor for Broadway Sports, and a founding contributor at SoundwaveSoccer.com, where he covers Nashville SC, Huntsville City FC and Nashville's youth academy.

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