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Atlanta United Final Exams: Kevin Kratz

Atlanta is Kratz Country.

Atlanta United FC v Montreal Impact Photo by Peter Lous/Soccrates/Getty Images

Kevin Kratz

Position: Midfielder

Games Played: 27 appearances, 2 starts

Goals: 2

Assists: 1

Contrary to popular belief, Kevin Kratz, sadly, does not have a contract stipulation that requires his appearance as a substitute in every game. Aside from his exceptional free kick taking ability, it can be hard for fans on the outside to understand why Tata Martino trusted him so much late in games. He doesn’t have any other standout traits. He’s not big, fast or physical, but he’s incredibly intelligent. Kratz’s ability to come on late and be an extension of Tata Martino’s coaching staff on the field late in games was an asset that helped Atlanta United far more often than the contrary.

What went right this season: Obviously, it was the free kicks. He single-handedly lifted Atlanta past the Montreal Impact at home early in the season at a time when Atlanta was still trying to find its feet in a new formation. It was a day that opened our eyes to his sublime skill from deadball situations and kickstarted what will be his legacy in Atlanta. Five Stripes fans will forever remember Kratz as a free kick specialist.

What he needs to improve on: It’s tough to pin a single area of improvement for a player like Kratz, who is a seasoned veteran both domestically and abroad as he celebrates his 32nd birthday later this month. What you see is what you get at this point. That said, Kratz gave away a bad penalty in stoppage time on the road in New England that gave the Revolution a share of the spoils. If he can just cut out those mistakes (and they are few and far between) then that’s all we can really ask. Kratz’s role is not to change games, it’s to see them out.

What role will he play in 2019: 93 percent of Kratz’ appearances this season were as a substitute, and if Tata Martino were returning, I’d have expected that number to actually increase. Once Eric Remedi joined Atlanta United in the summer, Kratz’s minutes drastically reduced. But Tata Martino isn’t coming back, and perhaps Frank de Boer will try to utilize Kratz as an auxiliary coach-on-the-field as the team tries to adapt to de Boer’s way of playing. Honestly, with a new manager coming in, it’s hard to tell how he will evaluate some of the fringe players in Atlanta’s squad. But it’s safe to say that when Kratz does play next season, it’ll be more of the same, as usual.

Grade: B