The city of Atlanta faces an usual circumstance. Nearly all of its professional teams are in various levels and severities of the "rebuild mode." In some cases, the clubs have too much money tied up and not enough talent, or they have maxed out potential and have reached the metaphorical ceiling.
We have entered an era where much change is afoot in the Atlanta sports world. Perhaps Atlanta's newest club, United, will strike it right from the get go and find the balance of managerial and player success.
Take the Braves as the most severe example. Ever since the announcement of the new SunTrust Park in Cobb County, the Braves have aggressively attacked a total tear down with the intent of revitalizing the club with talented youth. Tasked with ridding high priced contracts and sending away the likes of Craig Kimbrel, Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, Shelby Miller, Evan Gattis, and Alex Wood, the Braves have slowly turned one of baseball's worst farm systems into one of the best. Upcoming youth promises better days ahead in the form of Dansby Swanson, Mallex Smith, Ozzie Albies, and Sean Newcomb. It's been a rough few years but at least the Braves plan makes sense and equips Atlanta for long term success.
The Falcons, on the other hand, are a team in transition. Atlanta United's partner going into Mercedes-Benz Stadium is trying to find its identity in the second year of Dan Quinn. An opportunistic defense still needs reloading to the front seven and along the offensive line. Roddy White has been pushed out of town by an offensive coordinator who looked for ways to not get him the ball. In his place, the club will hope Mohamed Sanu can fill the void of number two receiver. This is a team that's certainly not at the peril of the Braves rebuild level but also certainly a ways off from the successful years from 2008 through 2012 where the club finished first or second in the division each season.
Lastly, we have the Hawks who are the example of a successful team that appears to have tapped out its talent level. Without a major superstar and a roster of "good to very good" talent, it has now been bounced out of the playoffs decisively by LeBron and the Cavaliers two years in a row. Al Horford appears to be on his way out the door with an unlikely chance of Atlanta matching the type of offer he's seeking. It also has to decide which direction it will go in regards to Teague or Shröder. Coach Budenholzer has brought successful basketball to Atlanta but it appears the Hawks have reached the ceiling. Perhaps an offseason move can take the club to another level?
All of this brings us back to our main discussion point. Atlanta United is strictly in "build mode." There isn’t a line of history or failures to tear down and reconstruct to bring glory to the south. There is only building, and it is establishing a solid foundation for United to grow upon. The level of commitment to the front office, the academy, fan engagement, the stadium and training grounds (which was Klinsmann approved if you forgot) are all shaping up to become a team dedicated to getting it right. It might take a couple of seasons as the fledgling squad finds it footing and the front office explores the nuances of Major League Soccer, but with a little luck, United is well on its way to becoming a model club for future franchises.