Week 1 of the MLS season was all about spectacle for Atlanta United. Winning and losing just didn’t matter on the night where the city’s long-awaited MLS debut finally came to fruition with 55,000 crazy fans watching their team play in a competitive match for the first time. The occasion was more a showcase of a long and winding journey than it was a regular season match.
Against Minnesota United it was the same story but for different reasons. This time it was Minnesota’s showcase that just happened to be in an overpowering snowstorm. While the domination that occurred in Atlanta’s favor was extremely fun to watch, it’s hard to take much away from a match that felt more like a middle school bully stuffing another kid in a locker than a competitive soccer match.
Saturday’s Week 3 affair with the Chicago Fire should be the moment we find out what Tata Martino’s side is really all about. The lone survivor of MLS’ first ever expansion class have hit very hard times of late. Extraordinarily poor teams have made them a running joke over the past several seasons. But, thanks to some fine moves by the club’s front office and the hiring of a new managers with fresh ideas, their fortunes are beginning to take a turn for the better.
Adding Dax McCarty and Juninho, two proven all-star caliber midfielders to their side was the strong foundation they needed to sit their dynamic skill players like David Accam on top of. The Ghanian winger has become one of the most exciting players to watch in the league, but it’s all been for naught since the rest of the Fire have been severely underwhelming. Now that more talent has been added, they have all the ingredients to be a contender for an Eastern conference playoff spot. A spot they’ll be fighting with Atlanta United for.
With the first two weeks out of the way, we’re beginning to settle into the normalcy of the long grind that is the MLS regular season. This match should be a very good signal of where Atlanta are as a team. The two teams are comparable in expectations for this season. Each are hoping to slip into the playoffs and see what happens. Both have dynamic attackers and questions at the back.
The distractions of home openers and snowstorms are in the past. Familiarity between brand new teammates is starting to form. This is where all the excuses and rationalizing goes out the window and we find out just how good Atlanta United is on the field in a normal MLS competitive match.