Atlanta United dominates Major League Soccer

May+9%2C+2018+-+Atlanta+United+fans+turned+out+in+the+thousands+for+their+match+against+Sporting+Kansas+City.+Atlanta+United%E2%80%99s+team%2C+front+office%2C+and+fans+have+continued+to+show+why+they+are+one+of+the+most+exciting+teams+in+Major+League+Soccer+as+Atlanta+United+sits+in+first+place+in+the+league.+

Kyle Soto

May 9, 2018 – Atlanta United fans turned out in the thousands for their match against Sporting Kansas City. Atlanta United’s team, front office, and fans have continued to show why they are one of the most exciting teams in Major League Soccer as Atlanta United sits in first place in the league.

Ever since Atlanta United stepped on the field at the Bobby Dodd stadium for the first time on March 5, 2017, they have been a force to reckon with on and off the field. Atlanta set the standard for what Major League Soccer teams need to strive for in order for the league to develop. Now in their second season, Atlanta United is hoping to build on what they achieved in their inaugural season.

Atlanta United has seemingly shrugged off [last year’s] defeat and has started the new season with a record of 8-1-2, leaving Atlanta sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference table.”

— Staff Writer Kyle Soto

In 2017,  Atlanta United managed a record of 15-10-9, putting them fourth in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta hosted Columbus Crew in the first round of playoffs where, after an exciting match, Atlanta lost in a penalty shootout.

Now eleven games into the 2018 season, Atlanta United has seemingly shrugged off that defeat and has started the new season with a record of 8-1-2, leaving Atlanta sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference table.

Despite having such a good record, Atlanta’s first game of the 2018 season left fans wondering if this season would be as successful as last season as Atlanta fell 0-4 to Houston Dynamo. Due to a lineup with some key players out of position and other key players out of the lineup all together, Atlanta crumbled.

Moving on to their second game of the season against DC United, Atlanta defeated the Black-and-Reds 3-1 with all three goals coming from different players, showing how threatening their offense can be. Atlanta United showed their will and desire to earn points after a horrendous season opener.

While it is still early in their second season, Atlanta United has already demonstrated they are not just a one season wonder. “Overall the team has been better, more disciplined this year, able to keep their shape a little better,” Dirty South Soccer Atlanta United correspondent J. Sam Jones said. “[The team is] really close to being a team that turns into something really special.”

While Atlanta United’s players are showing their ambition on the field, Atlanta United’s front office is also continuing to prove itself as a fierce competitor in the transfer market.”

— Staff Writer Kyle Soto

For the first time, Atlanta United is in first place for the Supporters Shield, a trophy won by the team with the most points in both conferences at the end of the regular season. This piece of silverware is different in the sense that the most consistently good team throughout the season walks away with the Supporters Shield as compared to the MLS Cup, a trophy won in tournament style play.

While Atlanta United’s players are showing their ambition on the field, Atlanta United’s front office is also continuing to prove itself as a fierce competitor in the transfer market.

Atlanta United is often praised for its ambitious front office staff who showed their ability to recruit quality players when creating their roster for the 2017 season. Atlanta United showed they will continue to find the best players for their squad by signing Ezequiel Barco, a 19-year-old Argentinian attacking midfielder, for a MLS record $15 million.

Barco, who is considered to be one of the best young talents in the world,  was being scouted by some of Europe’s larger clubs. A signing like this was unheard of in MLS but Atlanta United made it happened. After coming back from a preseason injury, Barco is finding his feet on the field having played six matches and scoring two goals.

Barco was not Atlanta’s only transfer as many big names left and came to the club during the offseason. Darlington Nagbe, a 27-year-old American midfielder, came in to replace holding midfielder Carlos Carmona who transfered to Chilean club Colo Colo. Nagbe played a freer and more attacking role for the Timbers before moving to Atlanta, yet this positional tweak has not fazed Nagbe and he has cemented himself as a crucial component of the team.

Anton Walks and Tyrone Mears, 21 and 25 respectively, both played as right backs last year for Atlanta United. After a solid season for both players, Walks, who is owned by English club Tottenham Hotspur, was recalled from his loan spell in Atlanta and has since been loaned out to Portsmouth FC who plays in the third tier of England’s soccer pyramid while Mears left for Minnesota United on a free transfer.

While the team, in only its second season continues to steal the spotlight on the field, Atlanta United fans have continued to show why the Atlanta fanbase is the best in the MLS.”

— Staff Writer Kyle Soto

Atlanta filled the right back role with 23-year-old Argentine Franco Escobar and 31-year-old American Sal Zizzo. All of Atlanta’s new signing look like they have been with the team since the beginning and have not missed a beat, which is a rare accomplishment.

When Atlanta United faced LA Galaxy on April 21, Atlanta United completely shut out Zlatan Ibrahimović, who recently transferred to the Galaxy, not allowing him to take any shots whatsoever. Ibrahimović is a world renowned striker who has played for some of the biggest and most successful clubs in the the history of the game such as Barcelona and Manchester United. Atlanta would go on to win that match 2-0.

“Andrew Carleton, a local kid coming in and getting an assist in a substitute appearance is really exciting,” Jones said. Los Angeles Football Club, an expansion team introduced this year, started the season off strongly and many tipped them to exceed what Atlanta United achieved last year. When LAFC visited the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta nullified these claims by thrashing their opponent 5-0.

While the team, in only its second season continues to steal the spotlight on the field, Atlanta United fans have continued to show why the Atlanta fanbase is the best in the MLS.

Atlanta United grabbed headlines and shattered records in their first year in MLS for match attendance and that trend has not seemed to stop. On May 9, a little under 45,000 fans made the trip to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Attracting that many fans on a weeknight is no easy feat, yet Atlanta United has done it time and time again.

Atlanta United’s reputation has continued to blossom in Atlanta, around MLS, and overseas. The team has grown comfortable with its new signings and stayed true to their style of play. Atlanta United has been dominating opponents which has left them top of the league for the first time in their short  history.