Category Archives: Atlanta United FC

Atlanta United FC

The Time of My Life with New York Red Bulls

Sylvana Budesheim - NY Red Bulls/mlsfemale
Official New York Red Bulls Reporter

By Sylvana Budesheim // @WhiteZinWench 

Sunday, October 15th: 0-0 Draw

The Eastern Conference has already been decided the week before Major League Soccer’s Decision Day. The New York Red Bulls (13-12-8, 47 points), despite what felt like a rickety roller coaster of a season, clinched the final spot in the playoffs with a decisive win at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

When RBNY played Atlanta United (15-9-9, 54 points) on Opening Day for this season, it was a momentous occasion. While the sparkling newcomers opened the scoring, they faltered at not only the feet of legendary Red Bull striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, but also their own: an own goal gave the day to the team of MLS history. And while that’s not exactly how a team wants to win, fans surely took it as a sign of a strong season for RBNY while Atlanta braced themselves for growing pains in their inaugural season. But as the season continued, it was clear: one game does not a season make.

[Insert Flatliners joke about DC United here. What? It’s not like I have a DCU colleague to insult… yet.]

Being the final home game of the regular season, RBNY participated in the league-wide tradition of Supporter’s Day, with live music and drink specials, and a promise of all sorts of fireworks, from the players as well as the pyrotechnic experts. And boy did they all deliver! Atlanta United is.. are.. um.. well..?

They’re physical.

I do a running log of every game just so I can remember it later (You don’t wanna see it, trust me. It’s a total snoozefest). I have nearly 10 statements that include the words “taken down” or “foul by [ATL player].” Add in the only two yellow cards of the match (both for Atlanta: Yamil Asad 61′; Leadro Gonzalez-Pirez 94′) and the only thing I can say is, ‘Ouch. That’s rough.’

But RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch said… a little more:

Their bench is yelling to kick our guys from the bench, okay. So Martino is yelling in Spanish to kick our players.

Is it true? Is Jesse just speaking out of frustration? I don’t know. I don’t really care. Comments like this don’t change anything.

The Ironman vs Mr. Clean Sheet: I’m absolutely convinced that the entire 90 minutes of the match could have been comprised of RBNY GK Luis Robles punting the ball to ATLUTD GK Brad Guzan and Guzan returning it in kind. Would’ve been the most boring game ever… Both keepers were credited with 3 saves and were supported by their respective back lines.

Play Your Kids: The Average age of the players on RBNY is 26 years, 3 months (What were you doing at that age? I had two kids and the most creative I ever got with writing was making wacky fill-in-the-blank vocabulary tests for high school kids.) Atlanta United is not far behind with an average age of 26 years 7 months.

While I write, ATLUTD Midfielder Andrew Carleton is helping make some USMNT U-17 magic in the U-17 World Cup in India. RBNY’s Derrick Etienne was called up for the Haitian national team when they played a friendly against Japan. And of course, RBNY Academy product Tyler Adams was the center of attention after going another 90 minutes in red and white, having figured in USMNT’s U-17 and U-20 teams and their respective World Cup runs.

“We love our young players, and we love to develop them. We
love to teach them to play our style. We like them to be aggressive. We want them to be rewarded for their aggression, for their commitment and you see that in our system, players develop, period, period.”    –Jesse Marsch, post game interview

That’s certainly great, but does that affect the veteran players?

“Obviously, the physical part of the game comes really easy for Tyler Adams. Sean Davis, I thought stood pretty tall today as well and covered a lot of ground. We’ve gotten some good performances from some young guys, and we got to push ourselves into the playoffs.” -Midfielder & team Captain Sacha Kljestan

“Maybe the light is not on me anymore, it’s on the young players… and I love that.”
-Defender Damien Perrinelle

(That’s right: I interviewed Damien Perrinelle… badly. Being a teacher for nearly 20 years, I’m used to being the one doing all the talking. But this is the only way to learn; if he’ll allow it, I’ll take another run at it next chance I get.)

The Result: Before the match, I did an Instagram Live video with my ATLUTD counterpart, and neither of us were sure what to expect. But after the attacks and counterattacks, the free kicks and the corners, the tackles and the warnings, a scoreless draw and no major injuries from either team was just about the best result that could have happened. So let the *other* fireworks begin. These two teams just might see each other one more time during the post-season.

On a personal note: I have to take this opportunity to tell you, the reader, that this writing experience with MLSFemale has been one of the best things to happen to me in recent years. I didn’t know what to expect when I first filled out an application for a media pass at Red Bull Arena. Pretty much every other writer here is a member of a team supporter club/season ticket holder, so I’m taking a very different approach by opting for the press box.

But I’ve met some amazing writers, photographers, and podcasters, and have been able to share my passion for the club with them (especially Kerissa— the Veron to my BWP). I even introduced myself to Tina Cervasio of MSG, who is a role model in the world of female sportscasting. The guys in the RBNY communications department have been super supportive, and it’s been so much fun to get to know MLS employees and soccer pundits as a result of my writing.

The players have been gracious and open, and I hope to get more time to bring their personalities to you in the coming months, even after the final whistle blows this season. I’ve had the time of my life, and I owe it all to all of you.

(PS– yeah, I know my usual musical theme didn’t come through much in this article. Don’t @ me… oh, you know what– go ahead. I’m a grown @ woman.)

Featured image courtesy: @NewYorkRedBulls

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @whitezinwench

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Party at the Benz for Atlanta United

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Since the Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened, Atlanta United have been unstoppable. Here’s a rundown of the stats for ATLUTD between 9/10-24:

  • 5 home games
  • 4-0-1 record
  • Have outscored opponents 19-3
  • 2 hat tricks by Josef Martinez in back-to-back games
  • 4 clean sheets for Brad Guzan
  • 3rd place in the Eastern Conference
  • Still 2 games in hand vs most of the conference (only playing 1 Western Conference team in remaining 5 regular season games)

Going to a game at the Benz feels like going to a party. The huge tailgates before the weekend games (and slightly smaller ones on weekdays) just enhance that atmosphere. It feels like we’ve done nothing but party for 2 weeks straight.

So many goals to cheer for! NINETEEN GOALS in five games. Eight of those scored by Josef Martinez in the first four games – and back-to-back hat tricks! That guy knows how to put on a show!

Last Wednesday, Yamil Asad had a great game, too. In a 4-0 drubbing of the LA Galaxy, Asad was involved in all of the goals, scoring two for himself and assisting on the other two. (Also note, the boys now wear suits when they arrive for games. *swoon*)

This Sunday, it was a little of everyone. Tito Villalba scored the first goal – another blast into the top 90 of the goal – which seems to be a sweet spot for him (see: Tito’s winning goal at Orlando City in July).

The second goal was a pass from Julian Gressel into the box that Jeff Larentowicz chested into the goal. It was Larentowicz’s first goal for ATLUTD and caused quite the stir on social media on Monday…

The other big news out of Sunday’s game was Miguel Almiron pulling up with a hamstring injury in the 17th minute. He was visibly upset walking off the field on Sunday and it was announced Monday that he will be out for a minimum of three weeks, which means he won’t be playing for Paraguay next week during the international break and may not be back until the last game of the season (vs Toronto) at the earliest.

With Sunday’s result, ATLUTD are now sitting alone in third place in the Eastern conference, just three points behind NYCFC and with a game in hand. Both teams play this Wednesday (ATLUTD hosts Philadelphia and NYCFC at Montreal).

ATLUTD will finally be caught up next week on games played after a trip away to New England and a home game vs Minnesota United – a game that should have been played in August, but was pushed back due to the MBS construction delays.

Other news of note this week:

  • ATLUTD have now scored more goals than any expansion team ever in MLS (63)
  • Homegrown players Andrew Carleton, Chris Goslin and Justin Garces were all named on the 21-player roster for the U-17 World Cup in India, being played in October.
  • After his double hat trick performance last week, Josef Martinez was named MLS Player of the Week.
  • Yamil Asad was named to the MLS Best XI and Leandro Gonzales Pirez was “on the bench” for Team of the Week.
  • Kevin Kratz won Goal of the Week last week for his free kick goal vs New England; Tito Villalba’s rocket is up for Goal of the Week this week – and ATLUTD always wins the internet, so don’t be too surprised when Tito wins this one, too.

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @robynsaghini

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Welcome Home

 

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Sunday, September 10: 3-0 Win

So many firsts here in Atlanta this season – and this weekend saw another one: ATLUTD’s first game in our brand-spanking-new $1.5 billion stadium. I did an Instagram takeover a few weeks ago when we were invited to preview the stadium. The stadium itself is breathtaking. The atmosphere from Bobby Dodd has definitely carried over – and multiplied – at the Benz. It is LOUD in there.

For the first game, the announced attendance was 45,314, which is on par with the numbers from Bobby Dodd. It was just announced Wednesday morning that the ATLvNE game is sold out as well, which makes it now 11 sell outs in 11 games. I had a slightly unique perspective walking into the stands on Sunday, as I was chosen to represent my SG in the Golden Spike ceremony (a rep from each of the four recognized supporters groups carries the spike in before every game). Below is a video taken by one of the other reps – that’s the back of my head at the front left of the spike.

The key thing about the field at the Benz is that it’s longer and wider than the field at Bobby Dodd (70×110 > 75×115). 25 square yards doesn’t sound like much, but it may have made the difference on Sunday for ATLUTD. Our midfielders (Tito Villalba and Yamil Asad) and defenders (Greg Garza and Anton Walkes) on the sides had more room to make runs up the wings, creating more chances and getting more results.

Speaking of Tito…have a game, kid! He was definitely back on track this week, with assists on two of three goals and a few shots on goal himself. The first assist was a header from a short corner that fell to Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, who just got a touch on the ball that slowly crept into the net behind FC Dallas goalie Jesse Gonzalez. It was Pirez’s first goal for ATLUTD, and the historic first goal in the Benz. It also reminded me a lot of the first goal of the season for ATLUTD that was scored by Yamil Asad.

The second goal happened so quickly after the second half started, I almost didn’t catch it. Not thirty seconds into the half, Almirón got the ball to Josef Martínez, who scored his first goal since July 4th.

Greg Garza scored his second goal of the season in the 68′ when Almirón passed to Martínez, who stepped over the ball, bringing a Dallas defender with him, and clearing the way for Garza to tap it into the net behind Jesse Gonzalez.

Both goalkeepers had great games, too. Guzan ended up with the clean sheet, but Jesse Gonzalez had some spectacular saves (and was saved by the crossbar a couple of times). Matt Hedges had Gonzalez’s back once in the first half and cleared a ball right at the goal line.

Coach Tata Martino said after the game that it was the team’s best game of the season, and I agree. After a month of long breaks and poor showings, the game the boys played on Sunday was exactly what we all – the team and the fans – needed, especially with the number of games we have in the next few weeks. If they can keep performing like they did against Dallas, getting into the playoffs will be a piece of cake.

Our next game is Wednesday against New England Revolution, who we have not played yet this season, and we’ll play them again at the end of the month. Saturday, 9/16, is the Big One, though. Our final game against Orlando City this season, in front of a record-setting regular season MLS crowd of 70,000+. I will most likely be doing another IG takeover, so go follow the MLSFemale account!

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @robynsaghini

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The Answer

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Sunday, August 6: 1-1 Draw

First things first: I’d like to ask the MLS Scheduling Department why they would schedule a game to coincide with Game of Thrones?!?!?!?!?! Thank goodness for HBO West, but I had to stay up way past my bedtime Sunday night. Totally worth it for both the game and GoT. No GoT spoilers here, but WOW.

Moving on! Atlanta United traveled to Kansas City this weekend to take on the team at the top of the Western conference. One thing I learned this weekend is that ATLUTD has more wins than ANY team in the West. Atlanta’s record is 10-7-5; the TOP SEVEN teams in the West all have nine wins. So there’s that. Sporting KC also has 10 draws this year after last night’s result.

I was reminded yet again last night of how bad the MLS referees are. This was not a foul:

But this was a yellow:

And this was a PK:

VAR was not used on any of these – or at all during the game if I’m not mistaken. Maybe referee forgot it was launching this weekend?

And yet, ATLUTD managed to get a goal (thanks to Jacob Peterson – aka “The Answer”, who we nabbed from SKC in the expansion draft) and steal a point in Kansas City.

For the record, that’s 7 games undefeated for ATLUTD. We have a 2+ week break (thanks to the delayed opening of Mercedes Benz Stadium) before the boys return to DC to take on DC United for the 3rd – and thankfully final – time this season. Here’s to hoping we can manage a win. Third time’s the charm, right?

Also in ATLUTD news:

  • ATLUTD traded a 2019 3rd round draft pick for CB Bobby Boswell this week. The man packed up his truck and drove all night to get here Wednesday and meet the team. We kind of love him already.
  • In order to make room for Boswell on the senior roster, Zach Loyd was moved to the season-ending injury list due to recurring concussion issues. 😦
  • In other trade news, ATLUTD loaned an international slot through the end of the year to San Jose for $75k. Not sure where that will get us, but we shall see if any additional roster changes are made
  • I will be doing another MLSFemale Instagram takeover on Saturday, August 19th when we get to attend an open house at our new home – Mercedes-Benz Stadium!

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @robynsaghini

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

Kings of the South

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Friday, July 21: 0-1 Win

Saturday, July 29: 1-1 Draw

After much online banter between Atlanta United and Orlando City fans over the last month – and some for over two years prior, the two teams finally met in Orlando on Friday, July 21 to begin the (slightly manufactured) rivalry everyone’s been talking about.

Things got heated a few days before the game when we learned that ATLUTD had paid for a billboard to go up in downtown Orlando, two blocks from the OCSC stadium.

This did not go over well in Orlando. Two days after it went up, the billboard was defaced (allegedly) by the Iron Lion Firm, one of OCSC’s let’s say “rowdier” supporters groups. The billboard was taken down later that day, whether by Orlando fans or because that was the plan is unclear.

ATLUTD had just under 500 fans travel to Orlando for the game. During the march to the match, Atlanta fans were escorted by local police and some OCSC front office staff. Someone threw a purple smoke bomb in the middle of the march. Another Atlanta fan was sucker punched walking to the stadium and the people he was with had water bottles thrown at them. There were also reports of a false fire alarm at 3:45AM at the hotel the team was staying at. The social media staff had a good response to that one:

The game was pretty close, though. If not for Tito Villalba‘s late screamer of a goal, ATLUTD would have come away with just one point. My favorite part of this clip is that Adrian Healy and Taylor Twellman are talking about how Bendik has been making some great saves and is Orlando’s MVP and then…

This past Saturday, in ATLUTD’s last game at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Orlando struck first. This stunner of a goal from Kaka kept OCSC in the lead for an hour:

I hate to say it, but that was really well done. And it had us ATL fans worried for a while. Down 0-1 at home to a team we defeated 8 days prior? Fortunately, Tito did not let that happen. An extra time goal from Tito took back a point and Atlanta remains undefeated against Orlando City. I do love the treatment Dirty South Soccer gives this clip:

We still have one more game against Orlando coming up in September. Hopefully their fans will be a little bit better behaved (but probably not).

This coming Sunday, Atlanta United travel to Kansas City to take on the top team in the West. I’m nervous, y’all. The good news is that Dom Dwyer is already in Orlando and wasn’t very effective against us this weekend. At least we don’t have to worry about him.

In other news…

  • Lots of progress has been made on our new home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium (aka “The Benz”). Turf was laid down this week. The stadium held a media day last week and so many pictures were shared!
  • It was just announced on Monday that our first game at the Benz is already sold out. The capacity will be held at 42,500 (the standard going forward for ATLUTD games) for the September 10th game against FC Dallas.
  • The ATLUTD U-16 Academy team are national champions!

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @robynsaghini

Check us out on instagram @mlsfemale

ATL’s Lucky Number

 

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

FOUR. Four goals on the 4th of July, bringing Atlanta United up to 4th place in the East. And the ATLUTD Academy U-16s just won a quarterfinal game by a score of 4-0.

Let’s start with our first road win in over two months, though. One of my favorite players, Tito Villalba, scored a brace against Columbus Crew on Saturday to ensure the first away win since April 22.

This might be my favorite tweet so far this season, though:

Anyway, back to the 4th… I’m now convinced that the ATLUTD players are summoning their strength with thunderstorms. Our last three or four home games have been delayed or nearly delayed because of lightning in the area and we’ve come out with three points. I mean, Josef Martínez and Miguel Almirón are superhuman anyway, so it’s a natural assumption, right?

San Jose Earthquakes came in with a surprising amount of energy for a team that played late Saturday night and traveled across the country. A minute and a half into the game, they scored their first goal. The scoreline remained 0-1 for the remainder of the first half. ATL had a bunch of shots, but nothing was getting past David Bingham.

It didn’t take long before San Jose’s schedule caught up with them, though. They were pretty sloppy throughout the game and Kofi Sarkodie was yellow carded in the 10th minute for a reckless tackle on Yamil Asad – a yellow that should have been a straight red. About 20 minutes later, though, Sarkodie picked up a second yellow for dragging Asad down in almost the exact same spot, and was sent off.

There were four other yellows in the first half of the game:

  • In the 15th minute to Anton Walkes for “unsporting behavior” (aka a bad tackle)
  • In the 18th minute to David Bingham for time wasting (who does that in the 18th minute?)
  • In the 42nd minute to Carlos Carmona for persistent infringement
  • In the 45th minute to Leandro Gonzalez Pirez for unsporting behavior

In the second half, there were three more cards:

  • Yellow card in the 74th minute to Jeff Larentowicz for a rough tackle in midfield
  • Yellow card in the 90th minute to Josef Martínez for “delaying the restart of play” (aka taking his jersey off while celebrating a goal)
  • And finally, in the 93rd minute a straight red went to Víctor Bernárdez for stepping on Martínez

So, yeah, it was sloppy all around – except for the goals. Oh, the goals. They were lovely. And Josef learned his lesson about not jumping on the fireboxes after a goal. He ran towards one after his first goal, but gave us in the supporters section a grin and a finger wag before he was swarmed by his teammates. (Although, the fireboxes don’t shoot fire during games after it’s been raining, so it wouldn’t have been a repeat of the last home game, but it’s good to know he learned his lesson after last time)

Here are all of the lovely, lovely goals from Tuesday night:

Additional notes from Tuesday’s game:

  • It was announced minutes before the lineup came out that starting goalkeeper Alec Kann picked up a left quad injury during the Columbus game on Saturday and would be out 6-8 weeks. That’s the same thing they said about Josef’s injury and he was out for 12 weeks. Kyle Reynish started for the first time on Tuesday and did well enough. Once the Gold Cup is over, we’ll also have Brad Guzan in rotation, so we’ll see how that goes…
  • Anton Walkes got his third start on Tuesday night and scored his first professional goal – a header off a set piece.
  • Also, we scored on a set piece! I don’t think that’s happened yet!

The fireworks after the game were really nice, too. It’s been a while since I went out on the 4th to see fireworks (mostly because I have a dog who strongly dislikes loud noises like thunder, fireworks, vacuum cleaners and leaf blowers).

So now we rest up for the last game at Bobby Dodd – and it’s gonna be a big one. ATLvORL for the first time in Atlanta. But first, the Five Stripes (still don’t love the nickname, but I’m trying) head down to Orlando on 7/21 for the first ever meeting between the two teams who’s fan bases are already rivals. I won’t be traveling for that one because my brother and his family (including my two nieces!!) will be in Atlanta for our grandmother’s 100th birthday party that weekend.

I will, however, be at Bobby Dodd for our final game there – and I’ll be taking over the MLSFemale Instagram account that day! I’m excited about taking over the IG account, but it’ll be a bit of a sad day – only because we’re leaving the stadium where we’ve watched our boys play for the last 4 months. Hopefully, there will be a good thunderstorm around 5pm that day so our superheroes can summon their powers and get lots of goals!

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @robynsaghini

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Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Mid-Season Catch-Up

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

It’s been a busy few weeks for me and Atlanta United. I’ve lost count of how many games we’ve played in the last three weeks. Losses on the road and wins at home. But the important thing is that we’re currently sitting in 6th in the East, which puts us into the playoff race.

I’m writing this while watching the Miami FC vs ATLUTD US Open Cup game in Miami. I’m hoping to have a final score at the end of this article, but right now it’s 1-1 at the beginning of the second half.

These USOC lineups from coach Tata Martino have been interesting. Lots of the kids who don’t play much on the first team. Brandon Vazquez has been on fire – both in USOC, where he currently has two goals, and in regular season play, where he’s got one goal and an assist. This is a bit of a surprise, considering I didn’t think he did well at all in preseason play. I guess good coaching will do that, though. 🙂

In other news, JOSEF MARTINEZ IS BACK! And with a vengance! He played a full 90 minutes in the first USOC game two weeks ago vs Charleston (our USL affiliate) and scored a goal, but didn’t start in regular season games until this past weekend vs Colorado Rapids. He scored the only goal in that game (with an assist from Vazquez) and celebrated by nearly setting himself on fire.

His first goal in the regular season since coming back came a week and a half ago against Columbus Crew, when he came in as a sub. He stated after the game that he was a little emotional after the goal because he was so happy about getting the goal for all of the fans that were chanting his name before he came on. He may not know this, but so many of the supporters also had all the feels when he scored that goal. I was a little teary-eyed myself.

*USOC Update* – Miami just went up 2-1. On a #(@$*@%# set piece, of course. ATL still needs to work on defending set pieces. Sigh.

Back to the regular season…This month has been particularly rough and it’s not over yet. 2 games per week for 4 weeks. After this USOC game, the boys travel to Columbus to take them on at home and then return home for a 4th of July match vs San Jose Earthquakes. And then we get a break during the Gold Cup, although if we manage to win tonight, we will host the winner of CINvCHI on July 12.

*USOC Update 2* – Atlanta just tied up the game. A PK was awarded to us when Carleton was taken down in the box and Julian Gressel got the shot just under Miami’s keeper.

And there it is – Miami FC just defeated ATLUTD on a goal from Poku – OF COURSE. Poku has a habit of scoring the game winner in USOC games. I saw him do it 3 years ago when he was an Atlanta Silverback vs Real Salt Lake.

Ah well…back to focusing on the regular season, then!

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter // @robynsaghini

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Subscribe + get caught up: Weekly Dispatch 2017

Catching Up

 

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

I’ve been gone for a minute, but life gets busy sometimes, right? Anyway, y’all didn’t miss much. NYCFC came to the ATL and got dished up some revenge in the form of a 3-1 loss, then two losses away at Vancouver Whitecaps and Chicago Fire have kept Atlanta United hovering just below the line in the Eastern Conference at 5-6-3 on the season. One thing to note from these games: set pieces have been our downfall. We have got to get better at defending them AND using the opportunity when we get them. NO MORE SHORT CORNERS, PLEASE.

Things are just starting to get a little crazy schedule-wise for the Five Stripes. Last night was ATLUTD’s US Open Cup debut (more on that later), and the next three weeks before the Gold Cup break look like this:

  • Saturday, June 17: home vs Columbus
  • Wednesday, June 21: at DC United
  • Saturday, June 24: home vs Colorado
  • Wednesday, June 28: USOC round 5 at Miami FC
  • Saturday, July 1: at Columbus
  • Tuesday, July 4: home vs San Jose

Throw in a work trip next week for me and I’m exhausted just looking at this. I shouldn’t complain too much, though – this is nothing compared to what September looks like: SEVEN games in 20 days, six of which are home games. That doesn’t include the USOC final, should we make it that far, but an already rescheduled game vs LA Galaxy would have to be re-rescheduled for that. I may be in a coma by October.

In good news, Josef is back!! Martinez went in with about 30 minutes left in the Chicago game last weekend. He managed to make a couple of decent plays, but no goals and nothing spectacular to report. We’re all just SO happy to see him back on the pitch. The bar I was watching the game at got really loud when he stood up to be subbed in.

Wednesday night was ATLUTD’s US Open Cup debut vs their USL affiliate, the Charleston Battery – and what a night it was. The players were announced and had just lined up on the field for the national anthem when the game was delayed because of lightning in the area. A two hour and 42 minute delay later, it was game on.

The lineup was mostly Atlanta’s B team, with a few regular starters (Larentowicz, Almiron and Martinez).

Charleston did not come to Atlanta to lose. They played like it was a playoff game, even without a couple of their usual starters (including Romario Williams, who is on loan to the Battery from ATLUTD, but was called up to the Jamaican national team). Charleston went up early on a goal headed in by Forrest Lasso on a long throw in. ATL answered in the 30th minute with Kevin Kratz scoring his first ATLUTD goal. Charleston went up again just minutes after the ATL goal and almost got to 3-1 when a PK was called, but Woodbine skied the ball over the goal into the supporters crowd.

Down 1-2 at the half, coach Tata Martino was not happy, and he made a couple of subs at the half. Mikey Ambrose came in for Miles Robinson and Julian Gressel came in for Zach Loyd. Three minutes into the second half, we knew for sure Josef was back when he was sent a cross by Brandon Vazquez and headed it into the net. The go ahead goal was knocked in by Vazquez on a cross from Ambrose.

This morning we found out that Atlanta will travel to Miami in a couple of weeks to take on Miami FC – who currently field former Atlanta Silverbacks players Jaime Chavez and Kwandwo Poku. Poku is an ATL fan favorite because of his heroics in the 2014 USOC tournament that let the Silverbacks to the quarterfinals where they lost at home to Chicago. Also, Miami FC defeated Orlando City SC, and I may laugh about that one for a long time – especially if we win vs Miami later this month.

A few random tidbits from the last few weeks:

  • Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin traveled with the U-17s to Argentina for a friendly earlier this month.
  • Lagos Kunga played for the U-20s in the U-20 World Cup in South Korea; he did pretty well, from what I’ve read – including this goal.
  • Kenwyne Jones was called up to the Trinidad & Tobago National team for their WCQs and was injured during warmups for their game earlier this week. :/
  • Atlanta United announced this week that this weekend’s game vs Columbus is the sixth sellout this season (but soccer won’t do well in Atlanta, right?).
  • It was also announced this week that we won’t get Brad Guzan in town permanently until after the Gold Cup in July. Jury is still out on whether he will start or not when he gets here. Right now, it’s Alec Kann‘s job to lose, according to Tata.

I need to go rest up for Saturday’s game vs Columbus Crew. I have a feeling it’ll be an interesting one after their USOC loss to FC Cincinnati (30k+ in attendance! Holy cow!) last night. I will leave y’all with this, though – Greg Garza and his wife welcomed their second son into the world today – and who doesn’t love some soccer babies?

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

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All the Fun is in the A

 

Robyn Saghini - Atlanta United FC/mlsfemale
Official Atlanta United FC Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Saturday, May 20: 4-1 Win

This weekend was SO. MUCH. FUN. The Atlanta United game on Saturday night was obviously a huge part of that, but the annual fundraising event I attended on Sunday is one of my favorite events to be a part of. More on that in a minute – first, the game!

The day started out well enough. I checked the weather report as soon as I woke up and saw 30-40% chance of rain in the afternoon, but it didn’t look serious….Until about 4pm when we saw some clouds rolling in. Still, no rain, so we assumed it was going to skirt by us. Until it didn’t. Fortunately for me, I jumped into the van I had rented to bring all the tailgate equipment in just seconds before the deluge.

The march to the match was already well on its way, though. Because of the lightning, the stadium gates were closed and everyone who wasn’t inside yet was sent to a parking deck to wait it out. The game ended up being delayed about an hour, but fortunately, once the storm passed, we didn’t have any more weather issues. Well, except for one minor malfunction during the national anthem. The hired singer’s microphone didn’t work, but the crowd realized it quickly and belted out the anthem for him and it was a beautiful thing:

And then…holy cow. After missing so many chances last week in Portland because he kept passing the ball, Miguel Almiron was asked by the coaches to take the shots this week. They didn’t have to tell him twice. Almiron is the second ATLUTD player to get a hat trick this season – and ATLUTD is the first expansion team to have two players with a hat trick in their first season.

I’ve had this song stuck in my head for two days now. You’re welcome for the ear worm.

Julian Gressel also got his second goal in a week. I watched this on replay a few times last night and it gets funnier each time. He gets the ball, loses the ball, gets mad that he lost the ball, and then “hey! There it is!” and into the back of the net it goes.

Almiron’s third goal was Atlanta’s very first penalty kick this season after Tito Villalba was taken down in the box.

A little earlier in the game, Villalba appeared to take a bit of a knock to the face in the box in the middle of the second half, but no foul was called. The Houston keeper kicked the ball out of bounds right at the ATL coach, Tata Martino, who kicked it right back on the field…maybe with a bit more enthusiasm than he should have…and the ref ran over and ejected him from the game. Chants of “we want Tata” were heard a couple of times after that.

We also witnessed the debut appearance of one of ATL’s homegrown players – and a huge fan favorite – Andrew Carleton. The 16-year-old came in for Almiron in the last few minutes of the game. He didn’t have a whole lot to do, but the crowd went absolutely INSANE when he stepped on the pitch.

The atmosphere at this game was incredible – it was very close to the same feeling we all had at the season opener, only better because we walked out of there with three points. I am hopeful that it will carry over to this Sunday’s game vs NYCFC – our second game against them in 4 weeks, but this time at home.

As I mentioned previously, this past Sunday was the major annual fundraiser for Soccer in the Streets, the local Atlanta charity that my supporters group has been working with for over three years. Every May, they host the ATL Champions League, where co-ed teams play 7v7 games in a round-robin tournament.

This year was the largest yet, with 16 teams (all named after actual European teams from EPL, La Liga and Serie A, except for the ATLUTD team). This year’s tournament was held at the ATLUTD training center. For the third year, Terminus Legion attended the tournament to support the ATLUTD team composed of front office staff – including club president Darren Eales and technical director Carlos Bocanegra. TL brings water, Gatorade, and orange slices (because you can’t have a soccer tournament without orange slices, right?!).

The ATLUTD team were defending the trophy they won in 2016 and went undefeated through the first round and semi-finals, but lost in the final game 1-0 vs the Manchester United team (who were wearing green jerseys because several of the Soccer in the Streets board members are Liverpool fans).

The total amount raised by the players and teams was over $130,000. Terminus Legion raised $1200 with raffles at watch parties and donation buckets at tailgates for the last two months, and a footgolf tournament.

We’ll be at it again in a couple of months to raise more money for the Black Tie Soccer Game, which is usually hilarious. People in gowns and tuxedos playing soccer (or Carlos Bocanegra in a kilt!), or like last year, when the event fell the weekend before Halloween and each team had a theme (Smurfs, the Addams Family – Darren Eales was Gomez).

It really was a great weekend. Looking forward to doing it again this weekend!

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

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GRESSELMANIA!

Robyn - Atlanta 100x165
Official Atlanta United Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Sunday, May 14: 1-1 Draw

Full disclosure: I haven’t rewatched the game from Sunday against Portland Timbers, so I’m going to just gloss over the finer details of it and talk about a few observations I noted while watching on Sunday. For another perspective of the game, you can read my MLSFemale counterpart, Sheba’s article here.

I have to agree with Sheba about the ball Yamil Asad took to the head and the possibility of him having a concussion and yet continuing to play. I know Atlanta United takes these injuries seriously – Jeff Larentowicz just returned from being out for two games because of a hit he took a few weeks ago. Not sure if Yamil took it seriously, though.

And I don’t disagree that the tackle that Carlos Carmona got a yellow for was far more dangerous than it needed to be. I don’t want to see him get suspended, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if he is.

Things we learned this week:

  • Miguel Almiron has no right foot – he had a couple of chances for goals, but either passed to someone else who missed or had a shot saved or shot with his left foot and missed.
  • Asad can do more than throw ‘bows – scroll down to #1 in Matt Doyle’s weekly recap to see Asad’s backheel nutmeg pass to Almiron.
  • Rookies can score goals! Julian Gressel was picked 8th in the MLS SuperDraft this year and has been having such a great start to the season that he’s already gotten a catchy nickname (Gresselmania) and his own fan-made t-shirt. On Sunday in Portland, he scored his first goal – and it was lovely.

And, in case you haven’t seen the shirt yet, here’s the tweet I sent out after the game (that Gressel liked!):

And finally:

  • Leandro Gonzalez Pirez is probably the best CB in MLS right now – totally my opinion, but I’m not the only one who thinks so:

It was a much better game for us with Tito Villalba up top instead of Kenwyne Jones. Much love for Kenwyne, but he’s just not fast and this team was built for speed. The boys still need to work a bit on finishing their chances, but these numbers tell me we’ll be ok:

For the first time ever in ATLUTD’s short history, we have back to back home games!! This Saturday, we are hosting Houston Dynamo and May 28th we host NYCFC on a correctly sized field. 😉

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

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