Let’s have a talk. There’s been a lot of frustration swirling around the Atlanta United community this past week, especially after another lackluster performance was covered up by a lucky late goal in Philadelphia.
I’m not going to lie to you, this team has played pretty poorly since the Gold Cup break. In fact, the only decent performance in this five-game stretch was the 1-1 draw at home to Orlando City. Even the win in Orlando during this run of games was overall poor, an amazing late goal by Tito Villalba withstanding. Frankly, this whole series of games has been bad. The “fun” and “exciting” Atlanta United we were all promised and witnessed for a good portion of the season has been nonexistent. We’ve been nothing more than an ordinary MLS team slogging through the summer picking up a few lucky points along the way.
The last two matches — coming off of a two-week forced break due to construction delays on the new stadium — were with the real eye-openers. You’d expect a fresh and rejuvenated team to come out and take it to two weaker Eastern conference teams. Instead, the opposite happened. The whole team looked lethargic and a step slow. Tired legs and an overall malaise set in and it’s got a lot of people concerned.
Yet I still feel just as concerned after our performances at DC and Philly.— Jay W. Riddle (@jay_riddle) August 27, 2017
That’s the bad news. The good news is, Atlanta United is still in a fantastic spot heading into crunch time. Another two-week break is upon us due to the FIFA international window. Now’s the time where Tata Martino and his staff have to dig in and motivate the team to come out with a full head of steam. It shouldn’t take too much motivation considering what awaits them on the other side of this break.
Everyone’s talking about the upcoming six-match homestand. Not only will the team get a string of important matches at home, but they’ll be doing it at the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. There’s just no excuse for anyone, not the players, the staff, nor the fans to not be up for the occasion on September 10. Atlanta sits above the red line on tiebreakers with Montreal Impact and a game in hand. With 10 matches remaining and only two of those away from Arthur Blank’s new palace, the dominoes are lined up for a special ending to the inaugural season.
The team has looked a shell of itself these past five matches. Important players like Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez haven’t looked themselves. Stretches of bad form come and go through a season. Apparently the soccer gods felt it only fair to bestow Atlanta with a poor run of form now considering what awaits. These upcoming 10 matches have been what we’ve been waiting for. Three-plus years in the making. The playoffs are well within reach, something an expansion team hasn’t done in eight years.
The old saying goes “form is temporary, class is permanent.” There’s no denying that this organization has been class from the outset. It’s time for everyone to bond together and prove it with these final 10 games.
This has been your motivational speech. We’ll have a lot of content coming over the next two weeks about what’s been going wrong for the team and how it can be fixed, but I felt a need to write a little bloggy blog post about feelings and less about facts and figures to hopefully talk you off that ledge. Let’s enjoy the calm before the storm, because this season is about to get absolutely crazy and I can’t wait.