Atlanta United is nearing the end of the 2019 regular season and at the time of writing have six regular-season matches left. Atlanta currently sits in third place in the Eastern Conference but still has a chance to finish in first or second place, depending on how other games around the league finish in the coming weeks. In order to determine whether or not this season will be a success, we have to review the expectations set by Atlanta United.
From day one, Atlanta United has always been about changing soccer in the U.S. With a plethora of attendance records that emphasize the support for the team and three trophies since last December, Atlanta United fans have seen much more success in three years than many teams around the league have ever seen. Atlanta United is all about winning trophies, and that’s the standard for success.
That standard for success was brought to the forefront of American soccer when Atlanta United lifted MLS Cup in only its second year playing. That night was the last night that Miguel Almiron played for Atlanta United and the last time Tata Martino managed Atlanta United. Many people around MLS thought that Atlanta’s success had come to end with those two departures, and for a good chunk of the 2019 season, Atlanta United looked like they wouldn’t be able to win any trophies in 2019.
One of Atlanta’s biggest goals is to win the CONCOCAF Champions League, a competition that will pit Atlanta United against the best teams in the CONCOCAF region, many of which play in Liga MX, the Mexican league. Atlanta United managed to progress only one round in the competition this year and fell to Mexican team Monterrey. Around that time, Atlanta United found itself near the bottom of the table, even sitting in the last place for a few weeks. The team has since found its feet and is now contending for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta has also added two new trophies to its trophy cabinet, and they both have significant meaning in their own ways.
The first trophy Atlanta won this year was the Campeones Cup, a new competition that pits the winner of MLS Cup and the winner of Liga MX against each other in a one-off match with a trophy on the line. This was only the second edition of the match, with the inaugural match being hosted by MLS team Toronto FC. Toronto lost that game 1-3.
MLS teams have had a rough go of things against Liga MX teams, but Atlanta’s home win against Monterrey earlier this season and the team’s exciting win over Club America shows that Atlanta United is hoping to change the dynamic between MLS and Liga MX.
The second trophy Atlanta United lifted last month was the historic Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The competition has been around since 1913 and involves teams from various levels of the U.S. soccer pyramid. Atlanta United was able to put together a spectacular cup run and gave its fans the chance to enjoy yet another trophy at Mercedes-Benz Stadium just two weeks after lifting the Campeones Cup.
The contrast in history and their individual between these two trophies is there, but they both mean a lot in their own ways.
By winning the historic U.S. Open Cup and the newly founded Campeones Cup, Atlanta is showing that they want to win everything possible and make history while doing so.
Even if Atlanta United does not win MLS Cup, which is THE standard when it comes to domestic trophies in the U.S., this season should be viewed as a success. Especially from the managerial viewpoint as Frank de Boer was able to turn the team’s season around, win two trophies, and qualify the club for next year’s CONCOCAF Champions League.
It’s an exciting time to be an Atlanta United fan!
Photo Credits: AJC / Curtis Compton
Kyle Soto is a volunteer at The Wolf. Follow him on Twitter @kyledsoto for more soccer content.