Nearly one year ago today, we made five predictions for Atlanta United’s inaugural season. It went as well as one would expect. We won some and we lost some. Let’s take a look down memory lane so that we can either gloat amongst the Atlanta soccer community or hide our collective face in shame and think long and hard about the poor decisions we made over the past year.
Prediction #1: At least five academy players will make an appearance for the senior team
We meant to say three. Andrew Carleton made two appearances last season, his first being in front of a packed Bobby Dodd Stadium against the Houston Dynamo and the second in a losing effort against Miami FC during the fourth round of U.S. Open Cup play.
Chris Goslin and Lagos Kunga also played a part in that USOC match, coming on as second half substitutes.
This wasn’t a terrible prediction. It was optimistic more than anything else. Let’s see if any other academy standouts break through in 2018.
Prediction #2: Atlanta United will struggle the first half of the season
Oh hey, we got this right! Atlanta went 7-7-3(W-L-T) in the first half of the season, scoring 33 goals and conceding 25 in the first seventeen matches. Compare this to their 8-2-7 second half record where they scored 37 goals and gave up only 15, and it’s a pretty fair statement to say Atlanta was better down the stretch, although most expansion teams would easily take 24 points to start a season.
Prediction #3: Atlanta United will make the playoffs their inaugural season
Prediction #4: Atlanta United’s defense will outperform their attack
Alright, this was wrong. In fairness though, a lot of people thought this prediction was nuts when in reality Atlanta’s backline was almost as efficient as their attack. Surprisingly enough, Atlanta only conceded 40 goals, which was good enough for fourth in MLS(Kansas City: 29, Toronto: 37, Seattle: 39). However, that falls just short of their prolific offense, whose 70 collective goals ranked 2nd in the league behind Toronto’s 74.
Prediction #5: Tito Villalba will be Atlanta United’s player of the season
On almost any other MLS club, he would’ve been. Thirteen goals and eleven assists certainly isn’t anything to scoff at. However, I can’t in good conscience put his performance over the incredibly efficient Josef Martinez or Miguel Almiron, whose box-to-box play was indispensible for the Five Stripes. Still, Villalba certainly isn’t a bad third option to have.
Stay tuned tomorrow, as we reveal our 2018 Atlanta United predictions and attempt to not make fools of ourselves this time again next year.