It’s hard to believe that 2020 will be season 4 for Atlanta United: in such a short time, it’s accomplished so much: an MLS Cup, a U.S. Open Cup, Campeones Cup, and back-to-back berths in the Concacaf Champions League. The 2020 season also features 2 new teams in Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF as MLS’s rapid expansion continues.
With 34 matches, it’s tough to pick out the ones you really need to watch, so here’s a look at the opponents that I’ve got my eye on for the 2020 campaign. Many of these away matches can make for some nice trips, so if you’re headed to one or multiple, let us know in the comments.
February 29 at Nashville SC (FOX): A new Southern Derby kicks off
Say what you want about Charlotte’s future in MLS, but once it enters the league, you’re looking at a nice 3-way derby between it, Atlanta, and newcomer Nashville SC. For now, though, it’s Nashville who will be Atlanta’s first MLS opponent of the 2020 season as the FIve Stripes open on the road for the 3rd year in a row. You’ll want to join the number of fans who have already marked this as an away day on their calendars. Plus, it’s on big FOX, so a nationwide audience will see the 4th-year outfit take on the new boys at Nissan Stadium.
March 7 vs. FC Cincinnati: The home opener
For the 2nd year in a row, Atlanta open its 17-match home slate with FC Cincinnati. Last year, you could probably mark this game in as a win for Atlanta, and Josef Martinez’s 5th-minute goal appeared to set it on that pace. But Cincy’s equalizer meant both teams would have to share the spoils on this day; let’s just say that fans who were already in a bad mood after a slow start to Champions League and a MLS season-opening loss to D.C. United (BTW, Atlanta have never won in the nation’s capital) didn’t take this result well.
April 26 (away - ESPN) and August 23 (home - FOX) vs. Orlando City SC: That one team from Florida
Orlando City will have a new coach in former FC Dallas boss Óscar Pareja. Will that mean a long-awaited MLS playoff appearance? Whether it does or not, the games against Orlando always seem to take a different tenor, and rest assured the Lions will be out to break that goose egg against Atlanta.
By the way, as much as we rag on Orlando, Exploria Stadium isn’t the worst ground in the world, so if you’ve never been there, go down to check it out.
May 16 (away - UniMas) and August 30 (home - FS1) vs. New York Red Bulls: Rivalry?
Gut-wrenching last second goals! Beef between defenders! Relative unknowns striking for New York! It seems as if every time Atlanta United and the Red Bulls get together, there’s a bit of fireworks. And this year will probably be no different. Reminder that Atlanta have never beaten the Red Bulls in the regular season, but with players like Bradley Wright-Phillips and Luis Robles gone and want-away Kemar Lawrence potentially with one foot out the door, this edition of RBNY will look a little different aside from names like Kaku and Brian White.
May 24 (home - FS1) and July 23 (away - ESPN) vs. Inter Miami CF: The other team from Florida
I’ll be honest. As of this writing I have no idea how things will turn out for Inter Miami. While it don’t have a coach yet (again, as of this writing), it looks as if Patrick Vieira may be leaving Ligue 1 and coming back to MLS to lead the way. Outside of Matías Pellegrini, it’s not signed any designated players, with its biggest acquisition besides that being Luis Robles. Things are still in flux, but Beckham’s side are finally set to get things going in 2020.
There will probably be more than a few headed from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale and the new Lockhart Stadium to see IMCF play with South Florida being a cheap and quick flight from Atlanta, too.
July 12 vs. Seattle Sounders - FS1: The champs come to town
The champs of 2018 host the champs of 2019 in what should be a nice midsummer match with a rare 12:30 p.m. start time thanks to the Euro 2020 final being scheduled for 3 p.m. ET. Perhaps this will be the day when Atlanta finally get that much-awaited win against the Rave Green.
October 4 at D.C. United: Decision Day
Reminder that Atlanta have never beaten D.C. United in Washington. That being said, with Wayne Rooney now with Derby County, Lucho Acosta at Atlas and Titi Rodriguez potentially headed back to Estudiantes, perhaps this is the year. Wait, Bill Hamid is back, so...we’ll see.
March 23-31; August 31-September 8; October 5-13 and November 9-17. There’s also the Olympic tournament in Japan from July 24-August 9 that will be contested by under-23 teams. Euro 2020 (June 12-July 12) will affect a few MLS rosters as well.