First things first, Happy New Year everyone! Thank you to everyone that made 2017 the best year Dirty South Soccer has ever had. Let’s keep the ball rolling in 2018.
Exactly one year ago, we made five bold predictions for Atlanta United’s inaugural season. Well, we were right about a couple things and wrong about others. Check it out for yourself.
We’re going to try our luck again this time around for what is sure to be another milestone season for Atlanta United, as they unveil a USL team, attempt to introduce younger players into the first team, and navigate their way around a plethora of potential signing rumors. Before we get into it, I should probably remind everyone...
*I’m probably wrong.
Andrew Carleton will make at least ten appearances for the senior team
What’s Tata Martino’s perception of the promising young prospects Atlanta United has to offer? That question will likely be answered in 2018. That isn’t to say Carleton’s future as a professional will be decided solely with this upcoming season in mind, but at what point does the “He’s too young” argument limit his development in one of the most crucial learning years in a player’s career? At some point, that can no longer be an excuse if the player is living up to expectations in training.
Martino would do well to get one of the most exciting youth players in the nation some minutes, especially at a left wing spot that is currently vacant of a clear starter and almost any depth to go along with it.
Ezequiel Barco will not come to Atlanta United
Rip that collective band-aid right off, fans. After weeks of speculation, Barco will disappointingly stay at Independiente. Although in a financial struggle, the Argentine club will find a way to sell other players as a way to cope and keep Barco on board for the upcoming Copa Libertadores. Atlanta won’t be willing to match the $759 million asking price, and Independiente won’t be willing to budge from it.
The nice thing about this prediction is that we’ll find out within the next month if it’s true or not. If it is, Atlanta’s front office certainly has other options up their sleeves. If it isn’t, Mucha Plata-themed party at the Dirty South Soccer compound(bring your own Mucha Plata).
Every USL match will be a sellout
Atlanta will continue to ride the soccer wave into Gwinnett County with another new and exciting club to cheer for. With a capacity of a little over 10,000(could be less for the USL team when taking into consideration the dimensions of a baseball stadium’s stands compared to a soccer pitch. Think Yankee Stadium and NYCFC), it’s not overly optimistic to think the club could be one of the bigger draws in one of the most soccer-crazy counties in Georgia.
What will most likely doom this prediction is if the reserve team plays at home on the same day as the first team. It’ll be interesting to see what the overlap is between those who attend matches at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and those that will prefer to stay closer to home and watch the future of Atlanta United. Also, the cheapest single-match USL tickets tend to cost around $10-$20. That’s a pretty cheap alternative for a night out. People will be lining up to watch Atlanta United 2Chainz play(that should obviously be the reserve team’s name and anything other than an Atlanta rap-affiliated one is unacceptable).
Miguel Almiron will leave in the summer
This one stings too. This prediction stems from an earlier report a few months prior that suggested Atlanta United had paid Estudiantes $1.7 million for the first signing rights to Lucas Rodriguez. According to the report, Atlanta holds these rights until the summer transfer window. It seems oddly coincidental that at the same time this report came out, Almiron was connected to multiple rumors suggesting he was headed to Europe. Since Rodriguez also mostly plays as an attacking midfielder, the move seems to be a like-for-like switch planned ahead of time.
The tens of millions Atlanta gets for Almiron will be great for the club and a milestone achievement for MLS, but we’re sure going to miss that smile.
Atlanta United will win the MLS Cup
Aah, sweet success. In just their second ever season of play, Atlanta will win the MLS Cup after Darlington Nagbe’s decisive goal in a penalty shootout against the Portland Timbers proves to be the difference. 75,000 in MBS cry tears of joy as “We are the Champions” rains down from the stands onto the pitch during the trophy presentation. Everyone is drinking maté from the cup. All is right with the world.
What do you think? What are your boldest predictions? Let us know in the comments.