Things are bad. They aren’t dire, but they’re bad. It’s been a rough two months of games for the MLS Cup champs. The team got wiped out of the Concacaf Champions League, is winless in the league, and things seemingly aren’t set to get any easier looking at the schedule. But, it’s the bye week. A time to take stock, regroup, reset. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only that, there are reasons to feel good - Atlanta’s losses came while it was in the midst of CCL and in rainy conditions that were ideal for a soccer game. The draws at home could have broke differently but they didn’t. Until the team wins there isn’t much to feel good about, but there are some positives to think about ahead of not watching the team this weekend...
The New York Red Bulls are bad actually also: Ah, our old friends the Red Bulls. Remember them? The second best team in the Eastern Conference - now they’re the best team ever to set the record for most points scored in an MLS season to win the Supporters’ Shield and then be exposed as frauds in the playoffs when they try to actually play soccer and can’t to being best team ever to set the record for most points scored in an MLS season to win the Supporters’ Shield to then start the season by losing to the two worst teams in the conference last year. I mean, how good could they be if they can’t stop Tim Parker from scoring on his own net?
Orlando City will always be worse than Atlanta United: Just the fact that Atlanta United is not Orlando City should always be enough to make an Atlanta United fan smile. Not having to watch Sacha Kljestan gesticulate wildly at the ref when he’s called for fouls he’s forced to make because he’s too slow to track back effectively or see Dom Dwyer perfectly set up a Wayne Rooney free kick and then have to treat him like a hero when he “comes home” because he’s not good enough to play for a good team makes everyday a good day. We haven’t even talked about the jorts, hooligan affectations, or stadium bans their supporters inflict on themselves...
Lack of pro/rel: Should we feel good about this? On the one hand there’s the fact that Atlanta can lose the next 30 games and have a worse record than the San Jose Earthquakes and not get relegated. Just think, the first pick in the MLS Superdraft awaits, we could find the next Mac Steeves! On the other hand, it means that the only repercussion, besides the fan base losing interest in a team that can’t win at home, is maybe missing the playoffs. That would be bad, but it wouldn’t be playing in the second division bad. It doesn’t really give the front office much of a push to move on if Frank de Boer really hasn’t figured it out.
ATLUTD Too: They’ve won a league game y’all! It’s just nice to know that there’s an Atlanta United somewhere that has a new coach who can put his players in positions where they can play their best. Plus, where else are you going to watch Andrew Carleton actually get a start? Who plays right back for the Toos?
Atlanta could be the Seattle Sounders of 2019: Last year the Sounders played turgid, unwatchable soccer until the middle of July. Then they played Atlanta United and saw what fun, attacking soccer looked like, decided to buy a really good striker from Latin America and went from enjoying 10th place to finishing 2nd in the West by playing exciting soccer, just like Atlanta United did. You’re welcome Seattle. Atlanta can’t exactly bring in a new DP, some dominoes would have to fall - but they probably won’t, but perhaps by the time the Gold Cup rolls around, the team will have climbed to 10th place and can begin their epic comeback in the league.
Atlanta could be the Toronto FC of 2019: Last year Toronto FC played hilariously inept soccer and was beset by injuries. MLS Analysts were sure they could turn it around, but Giovinco was injured for some of the year and not that good when he wasn’t. Jozy Altidore showed he had what it took to miss 20 games in a season. Michael Bradley played center back where he displayed his signature defensive move of containing a player, never stepping to him, and letting him simply pass a ball to set up a teammate to score an easy goal. Still, they managed to stop Atlanta United from breaking their points record on the last day of the season even though the Red Bulls did anyway, so maybe Atlanta can crush whatever dreams the New England Revolution have on the last day of the season.
Atlanta could be the Portland Timbers of 2019: By that I mean the 2019 Portland Timbers, they can’t win either!
Atlanta could be the DC United of 2019: The team could be in last place until the summer and then open their new stadium and have Wayne Rooney and Bill Hamid drag them into the playoffs. OK, so some of these are a reach.
We have new narratives: You know that you were bored of reading about attendance records, how Atlanta was exceeding expectations and breaking the mold for what was possible for an expansion team. The only galaxy brain takes were about how Atlanta was playing simple or not good because they lost games to good teams under weird circumstances or were a top 10 MLS Cup champion - now the team really isn’t good and the analysis pointing it out is more simple to see. Plus, did you really want Tata to stay? Really, search your heart. What would we be talking about? How he could be using the 3-5-2 more effectively, why the team so amazingly exceeds its xG every game, what he’s doing to get the best out of Brek Shea... The only constant in life is change, and now we have new and exciting things to talk about - not only that, but if Atlanta turns it around it’ll just be another flex on the league.
Feel good knowing that Atlanta United is almost guaranteed to have a better scoreline than Sporting Kansas City against Monterrey. We can feel even better about being the first team to beat Rayados in 2019!
Miguel Almiron: You can still watch him and don’t have to worry about waking up too early this weekend to do it!
The bye week is almost over: So I won’t attempt to try to write funny nonsense anymore!
If the article didn’t soothe you: Here’s a song to make it all better,
Thanks for reading.