Atlanta United started off the season as one of the best teams in Major League Soccer (MLS), but their form has since tailed off due to injuries and players getting called to National Teams. As their form has become more inconsistent, Atlanta’s goals haven’t dropped off, tying for the second-most goals in the league, but the team has also conceded the second-most in the league.
Since their match against NYCFC in April, the Five Stripes have scored 18 goals, but over the same time period, have conceded 18. Although the number of goals conceded is not ideal, the more pertinent issue pertains to when they have conceded those goals. In several games throughout the season, Atlanta has relinquished last-minute goals, turning surefire wins into disappointing draws. On the other hand, Atlanta United has also scored their fair share of last-minute goals, including on the first matchday, which really set the tone for the season. The combination of both scoring and conceding at the highest rate in the league makes Atlanta United games some of the most exciting from the standpoint of a neutral fan, but gut-wrenching as a follower.
The Five Stripes most recent fixtures have included: 3-1 losses to both Nashville SC and Charlotte FC, 3-3 draws to the Chicago Fire and New England Revolution, and a 4-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. The lack of predictability of the games is part of what makes the team exciting. Despite the variety of results, one thing is pretty much guaranteed: Atlanta United will have the majority of the possession and have some scintillating build-up play.
On top of having some of the most end-to-end games in the MLS, the 17s have some of the most star power. Thiago Almada, fresh off his World Cup win with Argentina, has been in peak form with seven goals and eight assists, including three stunning free kick-goals. Giorgios Giakoumakis scores a goal every 75 minutes, the best rate in the MLS. Miles Robinson, a stalwart of the US Men’s National Team, has returned from his injury and has been a force in the back. Atlanta’s very own, Caleb Wiley has been a revelation this season, making the left side of the pitch his own.
Atlanta United may be the most exciting team in the MLS, but they aren’t playing up to their potential of being the best in the league. There have been plenty of moments throughout the season where the team has looked lackadaisical in defense, forcing them to concede goals. Despite sometimes lacking concentration, the team is sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with plenty of time to move up the standings.