Training has restarted, players are back with immaculate drip and the start of the season is right around the corner. The smell of soccer is in the air and boy do we have reasons to be excited.
The current team looks quite different from the one that fell to Columbus Crew during the 2023 MLS Playoffs. Many areas of concern were addressed during this window to fortify an already impressive squad with a potent attack.
Ahead of such an anticipated season, we at Dirty South Soccer decided to pull out our crystal balls and give our predictions for Atlanta United in 2024. Each active member of the DSS staff was asked to individually predict how well the Five Stripes will fare in each of the competitions they will be participating in this year.
We got a good mix of answers here and some interesting perspectives as to why the team will do better in some competitions than in others. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
What place will Atlanta United finish in the Supporters’ Shield race?
Calum Ewing: 6th
Grey Gowder: 5th
Henry Higuita: 5th
Sydney Hunte: 5th
David McFarland: 6th
Tommy Moos: 3rd
Tyler Pilgrim: 4th
Jackson Popkin: 6th
Rob Usry: 2nd
The past few transfer windows under Garth Lagerwey have been good for Atlanta United, which has now built a very reliable starting XI to start the season. While the team’s electric attacking form toward the end of last season is encouraging, there are still some questions to be asked of the team’s defending: how will the team do without Miles Robinson? Can his replacement, Stian Gregersen, fill the void Robinson leaves behind?
Then there’s the issue of depth, which could impact the Five Stripes’ ability to remain consistent throughout the season.
Either way, the general consensus is that Atlanta will finish near the top of the overall table.
What place will Atlanta United finish in the Eastern Conference?
Calum Ewing: 4th
Grey Gowder: 4th
Henry Higuita: 3rd
Sydney Hunte: 3rd
David McFarland: 3rd
Tommy Moos: 3rd
Tyler Pilgrim: 2nd
Jackson Popkin: 4th
Rob Usry: 2nd
For the most part, the reasoning for these predictions are the same as those for the Supporters’ Shield: the team has a high attacking ceiling but the defensive solidity is yet unknown.
Because of how absolutely stacked the Eastern Conference is this season, Atlanta will have some serious competition to deal with. Some of the other teams in the East are probably better equipped to stay consistent for most of the season. With many international breaks throughout the season threatening to make critical players unavailable for stretches of time, it’s unlikely that the club will manage to stay at the summit (if it even manages to get there).
However, Atlanta should be able to secure a home playoff spot this year. If the Five Stripes can do well in the East, it will likely earn a high spot in the Supporters’ Shield standings, which can help the team’s hopes for CONCACAF Champions Cup qualification. East is king, y’all.
How far will Atlanta United make it in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup?
Calum Ewing: Round of 16
Grey Gowder: Champion
Henry Higuita: Champion
Sydney Hunte: Champion
David McFarland: Round of 32
Tommy Moos: Semifinal
Tyler Pilgrim: Quarterfinal
Jackson Popkin: 3rd Round (first for Atlanta)
Rob Usry: 3rd Round
Whoo boy, we have some very different opinions in this category!
On the one hand, you have those of us that believe this team has every chance of lifting the cup this season given that the squad looks very different from when it started (and unceremoniously ended) its Open Cup journey last season. The loss to Memphis 901 was embarrassing, disappointing and just plain ugly. However, there is reason to believe the Five Stripes will do much better this year and make a deep run (especially if some of the more challenging competitors fall by the wayside before Atlanta has to face them).
Then you have a group of us who think Atlanta United’s unconvincing depth sets the stage for yet another early exit. Or maybe its the terrible, lurking feeling that this team could screw things up at any moment. I’m not sure, but I thought some of the guys in this group had some pretty funny answers when asked to justify their predictions. I’ll let you try to figure out who said what.
How far will Atlanta United make it in Leagues Cup?
Calum Ewing: Quarterfinal
Grey Gowder: Quarterfinal
Henry Higuita: Semifinal
Sydney Hunte: Quarterfinal
David McFarland: Semifinal
Tommy Moos: Round of 16
Tyler Pilgrim: Third Place
Jackson Popkin: Quarterfinal
Rob Usry: Champion
Hey, remember that tournament last season where we went up against Messi and Co. for the first time, absolutely got our $h!t rocked and exited in the first round before having a wild 404 kit-fueled end of the season? Good times, right?
In theory, this time around should go a little better. Due to Atlanta’s finish in the Supporters’ Shield, it will enjoy being a seeded team in this year’s edition of the cup, which may spare it from facing tougher opponents in the group stage. It also helps that Atlanta will have home field advantage against any Liga MX team it faces.
However, there are a few things to consider about this tournament: first, it takes place soon after some of the big international competitions in the summer such as Copa America, the UEFA European Championship and the Paris Olympics. Several of Atlanta’s important players will be taking part in these and the intense summer schedule could put some of them at risk of injury. Furthermore, it’s highly possible that Thiago Almada leaves during the summer window (if he doesn’t during this one). The team may be in a transitional period where it doesn’t play up to its potential as it adjusts to a new number 10.
Nonetheless, with three CCC spots and a shiny trophy up for grabs, the team has every incentive to go all the way.
Whose predictions do you agree with the most? Whose surprise you? What are your predictions for this season? Let us know in the comments below.