To get everyone ready for Atlanta United’s match against D.C. United, we spoke with Black and Red United’s Ben Bromley to get his take on impact players ATLUTD supporters should look out for, their offensive struggles, and his main takeaways early in the season.
DSS: Who is a player Atlanta United supporters should watch for on Sunday?
BARU: Luciano Acosta, D.C. United's young Argentine attacking midfielder, is the key player for D.C. United if they're going to be able to get a point. Injured in the preseason and then out injured again last week, Acosta is what makes D.C. United's offense go. He can pick out passes that no one else on the team can, and can also score from midfield as well. The way to take him out of the game is to continue to foul him, as he has not yet earned the respect of the referees given his small stature.
DSS: D.C. United haven't scored in four of their seven matches. Are there any tactical explanations for their offensive struggles?
BARU: There are a couple of things, including the above-mentioned injury to Luciano Acosta. There have also been injuries to Patrick Mullins and Patrick Nyarko, and it looks like Sebastien LeToux will be out for this game as well. But their struggles have been deeper than just injuries: it starts in the midfield. United has had a revolving door at defensive midfield so far this season, with Marcelo Sarvas, Rob Vincent, and Jared Jeffrey all playing there. Without a consistent starter there who is performing well, the whole rest of the attack becomes disjointed and transitioning from defense to attack is harder. United's starting wingers, Patrick Nyarko and Lloyd Sam, also haven't found the incisive passes and direct runs that they were making last year, so the striker, whether it be Patrick Mullins or Jose Ortiz, has been starved of service.
DSS: What are your main takeaways from the start of D.C.’s season?
BARU: My main takeaway is the fact that, despite their start being so rocky they have been able to put some points in the bank for when they're performing better. 8 points from 7 matches isn't great, but they're still only two points out of the playoff spots right now and only three points behind Atlanta. With the new stadium opening next year, there is the possibility that the team could make some significant signings in the summer and really transform this team down the stretch. Until then, as long as they are able to continue to bank points and not let everything get away from them, they should be able to continue their streak of playoff appearances.