Atlanta United are 14 games into the team’s first season in Major League Soccer. So far, it has been a mixed bag of results.
United sit on 18 points with a 5-6-3 record and enter Saturday night’s game with Columbus Crew SC following two consecutive league losses.
The offense has been the brightest of bright spots for The Five Stripes, as Atlanta leads MLS in goals scored with 28. It’s the other side of the ball where this team has struggled, conceding 22 goals, second-worst in the league behind Saturday’s opponent.
You probably are more familiar with United than most MLS expansion teams given how frequently the club has been on national television, but to get a more inside perspective, we turned to our friends at Dirty South Soccer, specifically editor Haris Kruskic.
Questions for Dirty South Soccer
Massive Report: For Crew SC fans who haven't seen much of Atlanta, could you give us a quick breakdown of the team 14 games into year one?
Dirty South Soccer: It's been an up and down season, as shown through our five wins, six losses, and three draws. When Josef Martinez got injured three matches into our good start to the season, Atlanta supporters figured our form would drop. However, the Five Stripes drew away to both Seattle and Toronto, and then defeated Real Salt Lake handily at Rio Tinto.
Then all of a sudden, we lose to last place D.C. United at home and get completely outplayed by NYCFC a week later. After that, we draw in Portland, defeat Houston 4-1, and NYCFC 3-1. And now most recently, we lost in Vancouver 3-1 and Chicago 2-0. I mean, that's just silly, right? But I guess that's MLS for you.
MR: Given what seems to already be a ravenous fanbase and the young talent for United, what were the expectations for this expansion side coming into the year? How would you evaluate how things are going as we reach the midpoint of the season?
DSS: If you ask a person who believed Atlanta United would be marred by the "expansion team curse," then they're obviously quite surprised by what Atlanta's been able to do to start the season. I mean, to lead MLS in goals scored our first season is pretty amazing.
If you ask most supporters in the city, they've certainly been true believers and have bought in to what this team has been doing ever since the Tata Martino hire. We at Dirty South Soccer ran a poll before the season began asking what the fans’ expectations were heading in, and most believed we'd make the playoffs.
If I had to re-evaluate, I'd say our chances to make the playoffs are still pretty good. We're currently 8th in the East, but we play eight of our last ten matches at home. I think that stretch will put us over the threshold.
MR: I would be remiss if I didn't ask about our old Black & Gold friend Michael Parkhurst. How is the center back performing in Atlanta and what is the perception of the captain down there?
DSS: I think Parkhurst has been solid. He's had his good and bad moments, but solid nonetheless. Sometimes I think he gets lost in the shuffle by the fanbase because of all the great attacking players Atlanta has. It's definitely noticeable that he's pretty comfortable with the ball at his feet for a center back, which is great for a Tata Martino system.
Me personally, I always think of his time with the USMNT whenever I see him play. Aah, the memories.
To read Massive Report’s responses to Dirty South Soccer’s questions, head over to their Three Questions piece.