Category Archives: Atlanta United

No Sweat

For the many fans of first year team Atlanta United the news that came down today was quite upsetting. Star striker Josef Martinez will miss the next 4-6 weeks through an injured left quad sustained on international duty for Venezuela. Now for most teams this would be quite worrisome, but for Atlanta United this should not be nearly as big an issue. Now you might think, “Alex, how does losing the golden boot leader for the next month or so not qualify as a major issue?” The following are a few reasons why this will not be as major as it could be.

The first reason this injury is not as crucial as it would appear is the presence of Kenwyne Jones. While he brings a different style of attacking play to the field, the Trinidad and Tobago international has proven to be a goal scorer throughout his career. With Martinez preferring the ball be played into space for him to run onto it will be a bit of an adjustment for the rest of the Atlanta United attacking group to play with Jones who is more of a target forward who is good in the air. While this could be an issue, I doubt it will be as Jones was in camp and thought to be the number 1 option until Martinez was brought in. This means there should already be some familiarity with his play style within the group.

Another reason Atlanta United fans should not worry is the addition of 22 year old striker Bryan Rochez. He was acquired off waivers from Orlando City FC before the international break and has spent the break in training with the majority of the squad. If called upon, the Honduran should be able to provide a solid presence up from having scored 31 goals in his first 73 senior club appearances. This nose for goal could present Atlanta United with another option in the absence of Josef Martinez.

Another reason that fans should not be afraid of Josef Martinez missing time through injury is the quality of young players on the roster. Brandon Vazquez and Andrew Carleton could be given an opportunity to prove themselves in games if their performance in training sessions is deemed up to par by coach Tata Martino. We are seeing it in Germany right now where 18 year old Christian Pulisic is getting an opportunity to play at Borussia Dortmund despite his age. When it comes to young players we as Americans tend to be afraid of ruining a young player like what happened with Freddy Adu, but at some point we have to look at the younger generation and see if they are good enough to compete for games with established players. Maybe this is the time for both of these young American youth products to prove themselves to this team.

No matter what option Tata Martino decides to go with the decision will be boosted by the play of Yamil Asad, Miguel Almiron and Tito Villalba. With those three continuing to play at the same level there could be no striker on the field and the ball could still find its way into the back of opponents net.

Kicking Off A New Era

March 5th, 2017 will be a day that is remembered in Atlanta for years to come. At just past 7:40 pm Atlanta United made history by taking the opening kick of their Inaugural MLS season. This may have been the start of the game, but the party had been going on for the majority of the afternoon already. All over Georgia Tech’s campus there were people tailgating, in Atlantic Station at the team store there was a line that required almost a 45 minute wait just to get into the store! All this buzz that this team was causing the city on this, the first match-day, was incredible, but it had nothing on the feeling inside Bobby Dodd Stadium when the players came out of the locker rooms.

Walking to the stadium was insane. So many people in Atlanta for the same purpose and watching the Falcons, Alabama Football, or protesting was not the purpose of this gathering. The main road was filled with so many people you could hardly walk down it and once inside Bobby Dodd it became even more cramped. Despite all this the excitement that was in the air was enough to make it seem all worth it.

I arrived at my seat with nearly 70 minutes until first kick even

My view when I first arrived at my seat!

began and there were already people chanting! The stadium was

already beginning to fill up at that point, and by the time the players came onto the field for warmups the atmosphere was already electric! I did not sit with anyone that I knew and it was still a blast. I got to meet a fellow Chelsea fan and there were kits from a wide variety of European, South American, Mexican and International teams. It was obvious that the majority of the crowd knew what they were watching!

When the first kick finally happened the atmosphere was bonkers! The team looked a bit shaky for the first 20 or so minutes, but they eventually settled in and were able to get good ball movement

particularly on the right side of the pitch. That would be the key side on Atlanta United’s first ever goal as Tyrone Mears was able to whip a cross in from the right and Yamil Asad was there at the back post to poke it through Luis Robles’ legs! You want to talk about jubilation? Having over 55,000 people going absolutely crazy is an incredible feeling! Throughout the rest of the half there were many ‘A-T-L’ chants and even more patches where the boo birds were out in full force directed at referee Mark Geiger.

 

By halftime it seemed almost inevitable that Atlanta United was going to score again. The entire stadium felt like it was coming, and when Miguel Almiron got in on the break everyone readied for another celebration. It was not to be though as Almiron tried to chip the keeper instead of sliding it by him, although it would have been immensely more helpful if Josef Martinez had been onside as they could have used the 2 v 1 against Robles. Still the crowd was behind this team, our team.

When a shot slipped through Alec Kann’s hands and out for a corner there was an anxious feeling in the air as we were struggling to clear the ball giving up plenty of scoring chances. After Red Bulls tied it up the stadium again erupted A-T-L, A-T-L letting our boys know we were still behind them. The crowd stayed behind our team despite another goal finding its way into Kann’s net before all was said and done.

This game showed what I think many people knew for a while before, soccer belongs in Atlanta! We have an owner that wants to bring championships to the city and is willing to bring in world class players and managers to do so! We have a fan base that is young and will be around for a while. To have 55,272 people show up to the first match is incredible, but if you look at attendance numbers from the rest of the world only three games had more fans in attendance than the Atlanta United game! Those games featured Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, and Manchester United. The second highest attended game in the MLS was the Orlando City-NYCFC game which drew a shade over 25,500 spectators to see Orlando City’s new stadium.

Here’s to the beginning of a great season! Our team is fast and skilled and proved yesterday that they can compete with the best our conference has to offer. We Are Atlanta United!

 

Atlanta is United!

It’s finally here! The opening game of the Atlanta United FC preseason schedule. Taking on 4th division side Chattanooga FC away gives the AUFC players a chance to play on turf for the first time which is important as that is the surface they will play on in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium when it opens in July.

First ever Atlanta United starting 11The fans did not have to wait very long to see the first goal in Atlanta United history! Six minutes in Hector ‘Tito’ Villalba finished off a fast break after striker Kenwyne Jones successfully defended a corner from CFC.

After the first half of play there were a few things that were plain to see. The first is that Chris McCann is going to have a key role in the heart of the Atlanta United midfield this season. The Irishman was the key facilitator to playing the ball from the back line up to the attacking players as well as being a solid force when possession is given up. The other thing that is good to see is the play of young winger Yamil Asad. The young Argentine was able to score the second goal of the half by curling the ball into the upper right corner from outside the box at the end of an impressive passage of play by Atlanta United.

Throughout the first half Chris McCann has played an instrumental role in Atlanta United’s 2-0 halftime lead to be the player of the half for the first half.

The start of the second half sees Atlanta United make wholesale changes with only 33′ substitutions Josef Martinez and Carlos Carmona being the only holdovers from the first half. Included in these changes is the kit that Atlanta United has been wearing as they come out in their white tops and red bottoms after wearing their primary kits for the first half.

Draft picks Miles Robinson and Julian Gressel were among the halftime subs along with 16 year old homegrown midfield talent Andrew Carleton and young Tottenham defender Anton Walkes.

Carmona comes off for Harrison Heath in the 64′ minute after a fairly quiet half an hour for the Chilean international who was  signed less than a week ago.

The 68′ goal by Josef Martinez off a quick corner seemed to have caught CFC unaware as Andrew Carlton played the ball short to Julian Gressel who whipped a ball into the 6 yard box where Martinez was completely unmarked. Lead up to this goal was a long period of possession by Atlanta United.

Andrew Carleton gets his first Atlanta United goal in the 74′ off a rebound! Well deserved goal for the youngster as he has been playing very well on the right side of the midfield for the opening part of this half.

Post goal sees Josef Martinez taken off for 18 year old US Youth International Brandon Vasquez and Chris Goslin coming on for halftime sub Kevin Kratz.

While not playing in the middle of the field as McCann did during the first half,  young Andrew Carleton has been the main facilitator for Atlanta United in the second half. He spent the entire second half causing a considerable amount of stress for the CFC left back. He has definitely had a half worthy of being the player of the second half for Atlanta United.

An incredible 12,494 packed into Fort Finlay Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee to watch Atlanta United collect a 4-0 win in their first preseason match of 2017! A good showing by the club as they try to find their legs for the first match of the MLS season that is coming up in less than a month!