The good news is, it can’t get too much worse for Atlanta United in 2020. After being literally the worst team to participate in the MLS is Back Tournament, there’s nowhere to go but up for the Five Stripes as the 18-match regular season slate resumes. We’ve gotten the negativity out of all of our systems as the club has hit the proverbial reset button with a change in managers. It’s time to put our optimistic hat on and go bold. Here are five bold predictions for Atlanta United as they look to end this Biff Tannen-created alternate universe of a year.
George Bello will finally live up to the hype
It’s been quite the pro career for George Bello so far. After appearing to have the pathway to the LB job cleared for him the last two seasons, injuries derailed his progress. Now fully fit and seemingly no one in his way again, the spot should be his for the taking. Under Stephen Glass, he should be able to relax a bit and simplify the game as a natural left back or a least have some cover and freedom to operate in.
There’s absolutely no reason not to give him as many chances to prove himself with the way this season has gone. I feel good about his chances to finally take advantage and lock down a regular starting spot. He’s going to have a (interim) manager who knows him and knows how to use him. I believe Bello will play very well for the rest of this season and finally answer the left back question heading into 2021.
Cubo Torres will score at least 10 goals
It’s a very safe bet that Atlanta United are going to be an attacking team under Stephen Glass. If he was paying attention to the narrative dished out after the departure of Frank de Boer, there will be no choice but to be. Someone has to score the goals and by process of elimination, Cubo should be the one to get the bulk of the minutes as the side’s No. 9.
I get that his numbers since 2017 aren’t anything to get excited about. But let’s not forget that he has plenty of experience in this league and shouldn’t take much time at all to adjust to how MLS works. If the team is creating good chances, Cubo should be on the end of plenty of them. If Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco also raise the level of their play in a more player-friendly environment, then whoever is playing with them should benefit. Chances are that Cubo will be that third prong in the trident. Unless he’s forgotten how to move his legs, the former Chivas USA legend should bang in his fair share of goals. I reckon he can manage at least 10 in 18 games.
Stephen Glass will be a fan favorite
Everyone loves the backup quarterback. When Atlanta United look vastly improved under Glass—both from a results and aesthetic standpoint—fans will be very pleased. You’ll likely even see some calls for the club to make him the permanent manager. If such a conversation is even remotely sincere, it’ll mean the team performed extremely well under his guidance. The overall talent with this team is still there. If Glass gets everyone on the same page and enjoying themselves, they’ll play like the top team they have the potential to be. His simplistic approach should be enough for everyone to calm down and start playing like we know they’re capable of.
Atlanta United will secure a top three seed in the East
On the surface this might not seem too bold. A team with this many high-priced and talented players should be able to clinch a top three seed in the East with their eyes closed. But did you see this team in July? Goodness gracious. That team looked as if it might not ever win another game again.
I feel good about Atlanta’s chances of getting on the right track and getting into a good rhythm as the season (hopefully) progresses. A top three seed shouldn’t be out of the question if they start playing some good soccer.
Pity Martinez is gonna be the best Pity Martinez that ever Pity Martinez’d
Okay. We’ve probably said this at least five times over the past 18 months but this time it’s for real. There are no more obstacles in his way. No more excuses to be used. This is officially do or die time for Pity Martinez in Atlanta. Over these next 18 games we’re either going to see the Pity Martinez that River Plate fans adore or we won’t. I’m going to choose to be optimistic and believe that with a new direction to follow, we’ll see the best version of Pity Martinez during this upcoming stretch.
While not to delve too much into the negative, we pretty much have to see something good. If not, and we see more disappointing showings one after another, you have to wonder how long the relationship between Pity and Atlanta United can go on. The best possible scenario is that he takes this fresh start in stride and finally shows everyone why he was the South American Player of the Year and Copa Libertadores hero. We’re behind you, Pity.
Bonus Prediction: Jurgen Damm will save TikTok
I don’t know how but he will. I believe.