To get everyone ready for Atlanta United’s inaugural MLS match against the New York Red Bulls, we spoke with Once A Metro’s Steve Toto to answer some questions regarding the Red Bulls’ wild offseason and their expectations for the upcoming season. To find out what they wanted to know about United, read their story.
DSS: The offseason situation with Jesse Marsch was odd to say the least. How close was he to leaving for Salzburg, and do you expect this to have any effect on the team?
OAM: The fans were pretty unnerved when the rumors first broke. I would say the fans were starting to believe the rumors when Marsch wasn't at the SuperDraft in LA because he was talking to representatives in Salzburg. There were a few photos of him on social media taking in a Salzburg match with the higher-ups sitting right behind him in the stands. Fans breathed a sigh of relief when they saw him show up the night before the SuperDraft began.
Once the dust settled, I don't believe the team was affected. The only thing that may have affected them was the departure of Sporting Director Ali Curtis.
DSS: RBNY didn't bring in any major transfers over the offseason. Will they be over-reliant on Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips?
OAM: I wouldn't say they'll be over-reliant on the two of them, but those two will be expected to at least replicate their efforts and statistics from last season. There will be pressure on the returning players to step up so they can support Kljestan & BWP. Fans have been waiting for Gonzalo Veron to increase performance. Now that RBNY has switched to a 4-2-2-2, Veron can feature alongside BWP and put heavier striker pressure on defenses. Daniel Royer's workhorse mentality during the first leg of CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals definitely impressed fans. If he keeps that up, he'll become an instant fan favorite.
DSS: Dax McCarty's departure to Chicago came as a bit of a shock. How will the Red Bulls try to fill the void left by him?
OAM: Yes, Dax's sudden departure was very surprising. Luckily for the team, Dax was hurt for about 8 weeks last season, so his now-successor, Sean Davis, showed the front office what he is capable of. A lot of times when a good player gets injured, their replacements are there just to stop the bleeding. But Davis' performances were fantastic during his 21 appearances with RBNY. He showed he is someone that is deserving of a starting MLS spot and RBNY wasn't willing to let a young up-and-coming player leave the team. So the decision was made to trade the older and more expensive McCarty.