Being that 2016 is an election year and that Atlanta United is preparing for a new administration of sorts on the soccer side, allow me to flashback to the Political Science major days for this one.
With a newly-elected President, there’s always the talk of the “first 100 days” of an administration being the most influential part of it… setting a tone for the remainder of the time in charge.
Your effectiveness as the person in charge is measured against everyone else who had the office before you and you get the chance to make your own statement. It’s a measure of success and “activism,” according to Kenneth Walsh of US News when discussing commanders-in-chief of the past.
In this state of Atlanta United’s development, new “commander-in-chief” Tata Martino is limited in the impact he can have in his first 100 days in office. What can you do when you can’t do any wangling, wrangling, or acquisition within the league you’re going to be an active member of very soon?
One thing you can do is make a strong first impression, and Martino did that in his introductory press conference. National media has taken notice of the hire and its impact. Ask Thomas Rongen and Kevin Egan:
So, what’s next? After the media tours have the image of Martino sporting Atlanta United colors all over the planet, what will be some of his first actions on the job?
“In the first 100 days, I would like to build a good roster,” Martino says. “28 players with very good qualities that will be able to face the other teams at the same level. In the second 100 days, I would like to be able to instill a good philosophy of soccer.”
“We need to first build a competitive team and bring in players that have a deep affinity with the idea we have,” Martino said in the mixed zone after the press conference. “I’m sure we’re going to bring very good football players that will please the team, the league, and the city.”
There are names floating out there around the world that could be added, so keep an eye on the international slots and just how many Atlanta United try to accumulate by brokering deals in the next few months that have nothing to do with players on other MLS rosters.
No pressure on Darren Eales or Carlos Bocanegra, right?
“We are watching a lot of players here and abroad,” Bocanegra said. “Targets, so to speak, that we want to bring in January, those are the main discussions right now. He’s been doing a great job, both him and his guys, watching players, watching MLS games, getting familiar with the league and the system.”
Bocanegra went on to discuss more on why Martino is such a good fit here with this club, “He likes to get out there on the field and coach. He likes to get his feet dirty. Marginal gains for us, everywhere on the field. If he can make every player a little bit better, we hope that in a salary cap environment that will boost us up and get us into the playoffs and to the next level.”
“I know there’s a lot of things (to work on),” Eales said. “Tata mentioned the roster... I think, from my perspective, it’s keeping this energized fan base that we’ve got. It’s incredible really, a lot of people I heard on the radio yesterday are people that are still doubting Atlanta as a sports city. This sort of concept that you don’t get behind your sports teams? It’s patently nonsense.”
The season ticket numbers can’t be wrong. The Atlanta United numbers stack up strongly against some of the numbers from around the rest of the league. According to numbers that have been reported and estimated, Atlanta is already in second place in the league in season ticket sales in the league.
Wins and losses will determine long-term attendance health, as is the way with every other pro team in town. However, Atlanta United fans will get to see Martino’s style of attacking football and watch some internal growth through the academy out of the gate, something vital for long-term stability.
“We want him to get to know the club, get to know the academy,” Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. “It’s one of the reasons we wanted to bring him in now. So he gets familiar with Atlanta driving around, missing the traffic- all those fun things. But really, just make him feel comfortable and make him feel a part of the team, a unit, and a group that makes up Atlanta United, There’s a lot of other people in this room that help us out in this whole process, so we need to thank them, and it’s been great. Now, we just need to make Tata feel comfortable, make him feel at home, and make him feel a part of Atlanta United.”
The buzz from the soccer communities far and wide certainly helped in that regard, and it never hurts to crack open a bottle of champagne against the downtown skyline.
So while FDR passed 15 bills in his first 100 days, and became the example that is used where Commanders-in-Chief are concerned, the Martino Administration should be an interesting test case for the other expansion clubs down the line for Major League Soccer.