Atlanta United FC had, by all accounts, a successful inaugural year. With recent additions, year two looks to be one of expanded goals and expanded attack.
Last year didn’t end the way most Atlanta United FC fans had hoped, or even thought. A team that lit the MLS up to the tune of 70 goals in a season, one wouldn’t think, should lose on PKs at home in the first Playoff game. That sour note, though, couldn’t hide the symphony of applause for Atlanta’s expansion MLS franchise. This year looks like it could be another special one.
For a team that set scoring and attendance records, it is a significant statement to suggest that ATL UTD could expand on their success in year two. But the landscape kind of points in that direction.
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The team, with the exception of Yamil Assad, returns intact. That’s a lot of dynamic, fast scoring that returns. And while Assad’s contribution shouldn’t be dismissed, the recent addition of 18 year old Ezequiel Barco portends an even deadlier and more dynamic strike attack. Reality is that dude could be playing in Europe, but he chose Atlanta.
Let’s just pause there. It is rare that a South American player, or from anywhere really, chooses MLS over EPL, or some such. That is a gauge for how international players see the current state of MLS and of Atlanta United FC, specifically. One has to think Tata Martino had something to do with that.
Seats were already tough to come by, but the idea of Martinez, Almiron, Villalba, and Barco all pressing the issue and stretching defenses is worth the price of admission. And that price is going up.
With all of what the last 12-14 months has afforded local fans, multiple torrid love affairs with brutal heartbreak in the end, having sunshine on the horizon is refreshing.
Atlanta United FC is that sunshine.