The beautiful game is just that: it’s a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, as is the case with every single sport on the face of the planet, there are trials and tribulations that come alongside it. One club who is starting to learn that fact more and more as the weeks go by is reigning MLS Cup champions Atlanta United.
Atlanta has enjoyed quite the rise to prominence over the course of the last few years, as they were able to capture the MLS Cup in only their second year of full existence. They utilised their position as an expansion team to the absolute maximum, ensuring that they were able to edge past Portland Timbers with a nice 2-0 victory in the final last December.
It’s always great to reign supreme over your league, but to do it so early on in the history of your club is something special. This is what led many fans to believe they were in for another great season this year, but as we’ve been able to see, things haven’t quite worked out so well up to this point.
The biggest move prior to the campaign getting underway was, of course, the change of management. Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino made his way to Mexico in order o manage their national team, and he was replaced with Frank de Boer. The Dutch boss is, historically speaking, a great football player, but his most recent tenure as a head coach was disastrous with Crystal Palace back in 2017.
When he took over very few folks knew what to expect, but with four games gone in the regular season, fans are already starting to worry. They kicked things off at the start of March with a disappointing 2-0 defeat at the hands of DC United, and in truth, they never really looked like they were in the game to begin with.
Next up came two back to back games at home, which probably should’ve served as prime opportunities for them to get their first wins on the board. Alas, 1-1 draws against FC Cincinnati and Philadelphia Union led to the worries growing louder, with their last outing against Columbus Crew also ending in a 2-0 defeat. In the Champions League, they were knocked out by Monterrey in the quarter finals after failing to overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg.
It’s silly to write off a team at this early stage of the season, especially in the MLS, but there needs to be some recognition for the pressures involved with defending your championship title. This is an incredibly inexperienced team, and whilst their supporters should rightly expect better from them after what they were able to accomplish, we’d suggest that a little bit of leniency wouldn’t go amiss.
Atlanta have a few games in hand over the teams above them, meaning that there are going to be a few great chances coming up for the squad to prove what they’re capable of.
They’ll take on New England Revolution this weekend who are also struggling, and it’ll be interesting to see how they perform.