Last Saturday, on a beautiful and temperate Spring afternoon, Atlanta United FC dominated the pace and play vs the Chicago Fire, proving again that they belong in MLS.
The 2017 season, for the most part, could not have begun any better for Atlanta United FC than it has, thus far. With the lone exception of the first game (2-1) loss to New York, ATL UTD seems miles ahead of where an expansion franchise should be after its first three games, and blasted the Chicago Fire to the tune of 4-0.
One of the interesting things about this very young three-game-season is that each game has had a completely different feel and feature. Game one was one of unknown excitement, disappointment, and enduring hope. Game two (vs Minnesota) was in blizzard like conditions, the first regular season road game, but it was Atlanta that came out like a snow plow garnering a 6-1 win.
Game three against Chicago was a home game, but it felt like the team, and its fans, already had a better footing about what to do and expect. By all accounts, and after much fan consultation, the fan experience had improved over the two-week gap in games, and the team looks like it is continuing to improve on the pitch, as well.
As noted before, the continued elevated play of Miguel Almirón, Yamil Asad, Josef Martinez, Michael Parkhurst, and Keeper Alec Kann (from Decatur) continues to impress. Martinez is lighting the league up in scoring (11 goals in 3 games), with significant and steady play coming from the rest.
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Heretofore, the flying Forwards and unyielding Backers have been the most impressive. But game three gave a chance to spotlight on improving play from the Midfielders. For the most part, they dominated Time of Possession and Field Position. According to mlssoccer.com, Atlanta controlled the ball 65.8% of the time. It can be said that, after three games, we’ve seen all three levels of Atlanta United FC’s team showcased and shown out.
The next game for “The 5 Stripes” of Atlanta is March 31, in Seattle. That’s right. The big and bad Seattle Sounders. At their place, no less. It will be an incredible test for these burgeoning stars. In fact, Atlanta United FC’s next four games are on the road. These players are about to get a heavy taste of what it is like to play MLS.
The next time fans will get a chance to see them in person is April 30. These next four games will let us know exactly where this team is. The next four games will clear the picture of who this team is.
One thing is for sure, though, they are exciting to watch, and seem to be having fun. So, too, is the City of Atlanta. The love affair is real. This is no tryst. It seems to be true love.