There have been a lot of articles written over the past few weeks about the early success of Atlanta United, both on and off the pitch. My friends and I have enjoyed every minute of it. As a lifelong Georgia resident, it’s nice to see sports reporters write about full stadiums and passionate fans when it comes to Atlanta sports. Not to go off on a rant here, but screw ESPN. The thing is we’re only eight matches into the MLS season, and when there are eight left play, I don’t want to see headlines that read: “WTF Happened to Atlanta United?”
Due to construction delays at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta United has to play their home matches at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium for the foreseeable future. The carmaker’s motto is “The best or nothing,” and you cannot rush perfection. I only hope that we don’t lose the electric atmosphere when the new stadium opens. That would be a travesty.
United scored first in the season opener against New York Red Bulls, then proceeded to lose the match. Scoring first seems to be the club’s modus operandi. Let’s just hope that they can seal the deal more often than not. Or at least draw; which is always an option.
Atlanta scored early and often against fellow freshmen Minnesota United. The 6-1 win looks nice on the résumé, (the same goes for the 4-0 thrashing of Chicago Fire) but past results are not indicative of future victories. Or losses.
Five years from now, we may be discussing the rise of Minnesota United. Or not. Maybe Atlanta got too hot too soon. Fans of the Five Stripes may be looking at a club on the verge of winning something, while Minnesota actually does. What makes me say this? Suppose Minnesota has a dreadful season and finishes bottom of the table. Did anyone expect something different? If nothing changes next season, they will (possibly) get a new manager, and maybe new front office personnel (at some point). They could reboot and call the early years a failed experiment. And then Minnesota United 2.0 become the new media darlings.
Meanwhile, Atlanta United could stay the course and end up like the Braves, who spent well over a decade almost winning a trophy. Okay, the Braves did win the World Series in 1995, but that was against the Cleveland Indians. No offense. Or they could be like the Hawks and barely make the playoffs every season, only to get bumped out in the first round; which also sounds like Arsenal in Champions League.
Then there’s the Falcons, whose defining characteristic for oh so many decades was their almost unbelievable inability to put together back-to-back winning seasons. At the moment, they’re known for their complete and utter failure to finish off the New England Patriots in the most recent Super Bowl. What’s important is where the Falcons go from here. The same can be said for Atlanta United.