My player ratings for Atlanta United following Saturday’s 4-0 loss at Houston to open the season:
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, 5: Poor communication with Leandro Gonzalez Pirez led to Houston’s first goal. ... Stopped at least two one-on-one opportunities in the first half, but then palmed a corner back back into play that led to the fourth goal. ... Finished with six saves, none of them easy.
Right fullback Franco Escobar, 5: Making his debut, Escobar may have been the only defender who looked as if he could keep up with Houston’s speed. ... Had three tackles. ... Really didn’t get to become involved with the offense.
Centerback Jeff Larentowicz, 3: Though he played centerback a few games last season and throughout the preseason, he, like the rest of the back line, didn’t look comfortable. ... He was supposed to be marking Philippe Senderos on his goal. He was picked by Elis, which allowed Senderos the free run. ... Completed 89.1 percent of his passes. ... Just one tackle.
Centerback Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, 3: Poor communication with Guzan led to Houston’s first goal. It was a ball that Gonzalez Pirez should have taken care of. ... Picked up a yellow in the 32nd minute by stopping Elis on a breakaway. Gonzalez Pirez soon started grabbing his lower back/hip and sat down on the pitch in the 33rd minute. ... He was subbed off in the 39th minute with a lower back/hip injury.
Left fullback Greg Garza, 4: Tasked with trying to help contain Elis, Garza rarely got near him. ... Created one chance on offense.
Holding midfielder Chris McCann, 3: Had three tackles and completed 86.4 percent of his passes. ... With McCann, Gonzalez Pirez and Larentowicz as the triangle in the center of the defense, the team didn’t have enough speed to deal with Houston’s attackers or counter-attacks.
Holding midfielder Darlington Nagbe, 4: Acquired in a trade with Portland in the offseason, he had no influence on the game. He gave away the ball a few times and his passes didn’t really threaten Houston’s backline. He was replaced by Kevin Kratz, who Gerardo Martino said can be more precise with his passes.
Right midfielder Hector Villalba, 4: A surprise starter after looking less than ready in his only preseason start, Villalba was probably the least effective of the team’s four attacking players. He and Escobar failed to combine down the right, and he and Gressel didn’t combine well, either.
Attacking midfielder Julian Gressel, 4: The reigning MLS Rookie of the Year started in the middle of the field after playing mostly on the right in the preseason. ... He said he has trained in the middle so starting there on Saturday wasn’t a surprise. He finished with a team-high five tackles and completed 78.9 percent of his passes.
Left midfielder Miguel Almiron, 4: Starting on the left instead of in the middle, he finished with six shots and two chances created. ... He and Josef Martinez just weren’t on the same page most of the game, with their passes to each other failing to find the mark more than once. ... He missed a sitter early in the first half and then hit a penalty kick off the post early in the second half.
Striker Josef Martinez, 4 : After scoring 19 goals last season, he had just one shot on Saturday. He won a penalty early in the second half.
Michael Parkhurst (on for Gonzalez Pirez, 39th minute) 4:
Kevin Kratz (on for Nagbe, 61st minute), 4:
Brandon Vazquez (on for Villalba, 73rd minute), NR: