Atlanta United got itself back to winning ways in the U.S. Open Cup — just in time before the club starts a very tough stretch to its season. That stretch starts Sunday at Century Link Field where Atlanta United and the Western Conference’s third-placed Seattle Sounders kick off in a hotly contested match between two likely playoff-bound teams.
I spoke to Sounder at Heart’s Mark Kastner to ask him about Brian Schmetzer, Nico Lodeiro, and other talking points ahead of the big match.
1. What is going on with Seattle being so good this year. Y’all are supposed to be bad at first, and then be good. What’s been different?
Well, I suppose the good news for you is that the Sounders have hit a bit of a slump, having only won two of their last seven matches. It’s almost like losing your best players to summer tournaments is bad or something. Anyways, the Sounders should be fine, I hope. The Sounders flew out of the gates at the beginning of the year because, frankly, they were sick of having that narrative exist. Currently they sit on 32 points, which they didn’t get until like late August last year. They should finish the season strong and expect to finish second in the west.
2. Nico Lodeiro was recently fined for simulation/embellishment against the Columbus Crew. What are your feelings on him aside from his obviously excellent technical attributes?
That whole situation was bullshit. I guess Nico technically “embellished” here (feel free to embed the tweet), but whatever. MLS DisCo gonna MLS DisCo.
Anyways, Nico, right. I love Lodeiro so, so much. He might be my most favorite Sounder ever. He arguably is already the best, having shattered the club’s assist recorded in a record amount of games. Ozzie Alonso departed this offseason and Lodeiro was a natural fit for club captain because of how he sets the tone on and off the field for the team. I understand most Atlanta fans don’t have positive feels regarding Nico but it’s okay to be wrong every once and awhile. Humility is good for you.
3. The condition of the pitch/turf always seems to be a talking point at Century Link. What’s the latest on the status and how often do people complain to you personally about it?
CenturyLink just got brand new turf. It’s the same turf that Atlanta uses at Mercedes-Benz field or whatever you guys call it. So, there haven’t been any complaints about the new field yet. I’m sure people will find a way to complain about it soon enough and I can’t wait to see what people come up with. Looking at some of the pitches across MLS this summer, I’m not sure the whole “Grass is ALWAYS better than Turf” crowd can look at themselves in the mirror, but I suppose there are worse things to shill about.
This will be the second game ever on this field. So there shouldn’t be any complaints.
Bonus question: Tell me your favorite Brian Schmetzer story (not a question, I know)
What’s not to love about Schmetzer? He’s incredible. My favorite Schmetzer story is when he wrote ratings on all the players in the media game this year. “Reliable bench player” is literally the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me.
Media game? Never heard of it.