Well ladies and germs, the international break is now officially upon us, and maybe for the first time in my short soccer-loving life, I am grateful for it. Goodness knows Atlanta United needs the break after a mad-cap stretch of seven games in 24 days to open the 2019 campaign following the shortest offseason in the league for the defending champions.
But now that we collectively have room to breathe, it is time to take stock and assess where we are in the season.
Miles. Gordon. Robinson.
Do I have to explain? No? Good?
Okay, I’m being told by certain people that this is not proper journo material, and so forgive me for simply re-stating the obvious.
The 21-year-old has been the unquestionable standout in this young season, earning Man of the Match honors three times in a row for his stout defensive efforts. He seems to have made it his singular mission to disprove a certain tweet by one Matt Doyle, and for that, fans of the Five Stripes are thankful.
This may be a bit premature, but after several games of stagnant, uninspired soccer, it appears the scintillating product sold to supporters in the first two years of the club’s existence is on the way back up, and thank goodness for that. I’m all for defensive strength, but it should not come at the (complete) expense of the attractive soccer that has fast become this club’s calling card in the league.
Optimism As a Fanbase
Let’s be honest: before the 1-0 victory over Monterrey, Atlanta United Twitter was a tough place to be, and there were, (and are) plenty of people less than thrilled with a myriad of things about the team: personnel, formation, and the coach that is trying to implement them. Now, even though the #deBoerOut crowd still exists, there seems to be widespread agreement that until we see what he does with the talent when they’re fully rested, there is little point in calling for his head.
De Boer hate
See above, but again, aside from the requisite crazies that populate any fanbase, the general ire seems to have largely died down. To the new manager’s credit, he has apologized for a particularly bad press conference that surely gave his comm staff migraines and seems unfazed by the vocal naysayers.
This has been evident over the last two or three games, as de Boer has heard and seen the negative aspects of his preferred formation as it pertains to this group of players and adapted, adopting a more flexible shape recently.
After the much-talked about closed door player meeting led by keeper Brad Guzan and team captain Michael Parkhurst, the team has presented a much more united front and publicly voiced belief in de Boer’s vision.