A rainy, sloppy night in Washington D.C. is where Atlanta United opens their MLS season. After the highs of advancing in the CONCACAF Champions League, the defending MLS Champions stumbled out of the gate.
Atlanta didn’t play well against D.C. United. The team looked disjointed and dull when on the ball. Atlanta was lacking the clinical attacking that they had when they were fighting for their Champions League life on Thursday. In that game, Atlanta scored in the opening minute. The quality of the opponent was different on Tuesday, but that can’t be an excuse for a team that is as good as Atlanta. Atlanta, in the first half, had no shots on goal against D.C. United. The team finished with two shots on goal for the entire game.
That can be accounted to the sloppy field, but Atlanta shouldn’t have been distracted by bad field conditions after playing on a bad field in their second leg of the Champions League. No matter what happened, Atlanta looked outclassed today. Tonight was very reminiscent of last seasons opening game against Houston when Atlanta lost 4-0. This opening loss can be used to refocus this team on their MLS campaign. I expect Atlanta to come back strong in the next game.
Atlanta is under new management after the departure of Tata Martino. Frank De Boer comes into Atlanta as a big name, but there are questions to ask after stints at Inter Milan and Crystal Palace. De Boer did have plenty of success when he was at Ajax, so he knows what it’s like to run a winning team, but that was before he went on to Inter and Crystal Palace. De Boer comes into Atlanta where a blueprint has been set up.
He has yet to put his fingerprint on the club. That surely is to come later this season as the team adjusts to his style. Atlanta, tonight, looked defensive and content to sit back on the ball at a lot of points tonight. De Boer also decided to leave Pity Martinez on the bench to start the game, Atlanta’s record transfer. And when Pity was on the field was when Atlanta looked poised to score. Hopefully, De Boer learns from his mistakes tonight. There is plenty of time to set this right.
Atlanta’s next MLS game will be against newcomers, Cincinnati. This is bad news for the rookies of the MLS after tonight’s result. Atlanta should have their energy cranked all the way up for their next MLS game. Atlanta doesn’t need to falter easy points this early in the season. Frank De Boer needs to come back with all the firepower he has on the field. Josef needs to get his MLS season off to a good start because when the MVP is running well this team seems to find ways to win games.
Tonight’s game against D.C. was not the game any Atlanta United fan wanted to see their season kick-off, but this is going to be the catalyst to spearhead this team back to the top of the league. It’s just a matter of time before Atlanta takes their rightful place back at the top of the league.