August 20, 2022

Atlanta United salvaged just one point from a possible nine in the final of their three-game tour with a 2-2 draw against New York City FC on Sunday. The upside-down and somewhat unexpected result against the defending MLS Cup champions is a welcome silver lining on what seemed like a lost cause of a trip away from home. Here are some thoughts on the draw, squad and season overview.

  • It’s easy to look at this series of matches in a negative light. There’s no positive way to spin a point in three games without looking stupid. However, there were encouraging signs masked by horrific results. Most important is clearly the progress made by Josef Martinez. Not only does he constantly find a way to put the ball in the net, he’s almost become a 90-minute player again. When he’s on the pitch, it’s as clear as day that the team is playing much more confident in attack and is much more of a threat than without him. Although we are still a long way from Prime Josef, he is clearly on his way to becoming a very good and productive striker in MLS again. For this we can be very grateful and optimistic.
  • The team’s other attacking players are also starting to prove their worth. Luiz Araujo in particular becomes a must-see attraction with every match he takes part in. The chemistry between him and Josef continues to improve day by day. Then there’s Thiago Almada, who came back from his extended suspension and played an absolute penny of a ball to set up Josef’s goal in this one. He continues to show his individual talent. Once these guns start playing with each other more consistently, it should provide some entertaining highlights and, more importantly, some much-needed production.
  • Now on to the less good news. The defense continues to look lost playing without Miles Robinson. No matter the training or the staff, there are only mistakes and holes galore. While there are certainly grounds for hope and optimism on the attacking side, the opposite side of the pitch leaves us with nothing but uncertainty and worry.
  • We can only hope that the two confirmed additions to the squad will address the biggest weaknesses there. Come this weekend, Juanjo Purata and Raul Gudino will be available for selection. It’s very hard to put pressure on these two signings, it’s no exaggeration to say that Purata’s impact on the team in particular could go a long way in determining whether or not Atlanta United will make the playoffs. If the backline can find improvement through the Mexican’s introduction, it would instill a ton of confidence in the team all over the pitch.
  • If you had told me in February that I would be sitting here now asking Dom Dwyer to get more minutes for Atlanta United, I would have told you you were crazy. Yet here we are. The nickname “super sub” is not the one I particularly subscribe to. In my opinion, good players are good players and will produce when they are put on the pitch. I wish Dom had more chances to impact games alongside the team’s key offensive pieces. Specifically, I would like to see him play alongside Josef from time to time to give the team a different dynamic in the final third. He has gained confidence and opportunities through his confident play this season.
  • At the start of the week, the Five Stripes are five points from last playoff spot in the East. Admittedly, the prospects for this season are not good, but all hope is not lost. The attacking pieces are there, they just need to come together and create something special. On the defensive end, it’s pretty bleak but there’s a glimmer of hope for reinforcements on the horizon. The season is only halfway through and crazier things have happened than this talented team figuring it out and climbing into a playoff spot. It’s just a matter of confidence and form coming together at this point. Hopefully performance will start to translate into results and we will see that come to fruition.