The start of a journey for the MLS’ new team.
It seems like every year the MLS welcome a new team into the league.
This year is no exception, with the arrival of an exciting new franchise, Atlanta United. The team will be looking to start well, with owner Arthur Blank- also owner of Super Bowl runners-up, Atlanta Falcons- looking to set up as a stable and successful side. The team play their home games at the Bobby Dodd stadium, it has a 29,322 capacity, that can be expanded to over 55,000 if needed (as it will be for the home opener).
It is currently the home of Georgia Tech’s football team, who have played there since 1905. The appointment of manager, Gerardo Martino showed their intent, previously managing Barcelona and the Argentinian national team, he has been around and coached quality players. This knowledge will definitely be needed come the season, as players need to gel quickly and adapt to his South American style of play.
The front office has set out signing the best talent available however, this has been a challenge due to limited players on the free agent market. They have managed to add significant pieces on both defence and attack, with a an array of youth coincided with significant experience that is needed to go far in any league. Earlier this month it was announced that Michael Parkhurst will be the club’s first ever captain.
More from Playing for 90
- Alexia Putellas reaches 400 games with Barcelona
- Everything you need to know ahead of the 250th ‘Super Clásico’
- Barcelona put five past Real Betis
- Manchester City suffer but come away with win over West Ham
- Baffling Liga MX ruling strips Puebla of a hard-earned victory
A veteran of the MLS, having played over 200 games for New England Revolution and Columbus Crew, while also playing 25 times for the national side. During his time at New England he was awarded the 2005 Rookie of the year and also the 2007 MLS defender of the year, proving his worth to the side. Seven years on, Parkhurst will undoubtedly add knowledge and experience to the back line, and may also be able to help on the coaching side too.
In addition to this, United have also added some notable, former Premier League to their squad, outlining their desire to challenge from the off. Kenwyne Jones may be the most interesting name, after acquiring over 250 Premier League appearances for solid teams such as Stoke City and Sunderland.
His last spell in England was with Championship side Cardiff City, where he made 64 appearances scoring 17 goals. There is no doubt that Jones is not the player he once was, while he may have lost a yard of pace, his physicality will be something to look for, being an impressive aerial threat. His ability to impose himself on defenders will be a huge advantage, especially with players such as Josef Martinez, who have the ability to get in behind.
Defender Tyrone Mears, once again adds English experience with considerable spells with Derby County, Burnley and Bolton Wanderers. Mears also has experience of the MLS with Seattle Sounders, where he won the MLS Cup in 2016, playing a significant role with 32 starts over the season.
Atlanta’s pre-season began with a bang, a 4-0 away win over Chattanooga FC set them off to an impressive start. Winger Yamil Asad had an impressive game, scoring a stunning curler into the top corner after just 36 minutes. Their second game brought them back down to earth though, a 2-1 loss to fellow MLS side Columbus Crew. A diving header by Venezuelan Josef Martinez, similar to his one in the first pre season game, got them off to a great start.
A double from Crew striker Federico Higuaín in five minutes claimed the victory for Columbus in a more than tight encounter. Atlanta could definitely take away positives though, being their first ever game against a side from the MLS . The game gave them a more realistic representation of where they sit as a team compared to the Chattanooga game, that they can now work on in training before they grace the MLS for real.
Atlanta’s first game is at the Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sunday 5th of March, which proves to be an incredible occasion for everyone involved with club.