After a terrible start to the 2019 season, Atlanta United fans would never have dared to imagine how Atlanta United would eventually turn their season around. After lifting two cup final trophies in August, Atlanta United is finding its stride at the perfect time.
With the departures of former manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino to the Mexican national team and Atlanta hero Miguel Almiron to Newcastle United in England, the Atlanta United front office had some questions to answer before the season started.
The club eventually hired former Dutch defender Frank de Boer who had previously managed at Ajax, Inter Milan, and Crystal Palace. The club also managed to sign Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez, the reigning South American Player of the Year, from Argentina club River Plate to replace Almiron. Heading into the regular season, many fans questioned de Boer’s qualifications while expressing their excitement for Pity. Unfortunately for de Boer and Pity, the fan base would not be convinced they would be the right fit in Atlanta as the team struggled to earn results and Pity looked like a shadow of the world-beater he was at River Plate.
For the first few months of the season, Atlanta United did not look like a team that had won the MLS Cup just a few months earlier. Atlanta sat near the bottom of the table until match week 11 when they finally climbed above the playoff line. Atlanta even sat in first place in the Eastern Conference for two weeks, overtaking Philadelphia Union until they lost to the Union on August 31st.
However, Pity’s quality began to shine through while de Boer has gotten the team to mesh together.
Despite the loss to the Union, Atlanta had a superb August which saw Atlanta played eight games in 28 days (in soccer that is a very busy month). During that time frame, Atlanta United flew to Orlando and defeated Orlando City 2-0 in the Open Cup semi-final, beat Mexican champion Club America (one of the best teams on the continent) in the Campeones Cup, and lifted the U.S. Open Cup after defeating Minnesota United. Atlanta completed those feats while juggling five MLS games. One loss during such a travel-heavy, scheduled compressed run is a solid accomplishment.
At this point in the season, Atlanta United fans should be happy with what the team has accomplished. Frank de Boer and his players have turned the season around while lifting two cups just two weeks apart. The best part is, Atlanta United is still in contention for first place in the Eastern Conference and has a legitimate chance at lifting the MLS Cup for the second straight season.
Photo Credits: Kyle Soto
Kyle Soto is a volunteer at The Wolf. Follow him on Twitter @kyledsoto for more soccer content.