Tag Archives: Atlanta United

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!

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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

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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

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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

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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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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. 😉

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Tales From A Tiny Field

Robyn - Atlanta 100x165
Official Atlanta United Reporter

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Sunday, May 7: 3-1 Loss

I don’t even know where to start with this one. It was not our best game. In fact, it was probably the worst. And the first time we’ve had back to back losses – although I’m sure it won’t be the last. Something is not clicking with the team lately. I have an idea what it could be, but really, I’d just like to blame it on the teeny tiny field in Yankee Stadium.

The one good thing that happened during this game was that Carlos Carmona got his first MLS goal. And it was a stunner.

So many not so good things, though. I wonder if they’re just struggling because of the lineup changes every week. Between injuries and suspensions, I don’t think we’ve had the same lineup two weeks in a row yet. It’s mostly the same, but with Yamil Asad out suspended (again!) this week, Miguel Almiron was pushed out to the left to cover for him. Almiron is pretty much amazing wherever he plays, but I think the general consensus in ATL is that he’s more natural in the middle.

We did manage to make it out of another game without a single red card – or questionable play that ended in a suspension – but the boys came back from NYC with four yellow cards (Gressel, Parkhurst, Larentowicz, and Mears).

Other than the lineup and fouls, the only other factor was that field. It’s so small. The players just look like they’re tripping over each other. All the games I’ve watched at NYC have seemed that way. They really do have a heck of a home field advantage.

Next Sunday, ATL is away again at Portland. With Portland coming off a terrible loss and having home field advantage, I’m not sure I’m feeling so confident going into this game. I can only hope that with Asad back on the left and Almiron in the middle, the boys will be back on their game. And maybe we’ll have Martinez back from injury????? *Fingers and toes and arms and legs and eyes crossed* Is it sad that I’m really hoping the Timbers Army has a kick-ass tifo for us this weekend, too?

In other news, our Academy boys are killing it for the US teams! Andrew Carleton (aka “Frosted Orange” by his fans) and Zyen Jones tallied a few goals to help the U-17 team qualify for the U-17 World Cup in India. Here’s one of Carleton’s goals:

A few other tidbits:

  • Academy player Lagos Kunga was called up to the US U-20 World Cup roster.
  • The next home game (vs Houston) on 5/20 is the fourth consecutive sell out game for ATLUTD.
  • If you live in the South and/or have Fox Sports South, make sure to watch the ATLUTD Match Week this week; Brittany Arnold did a great interview with Tito Villalba (heart eyes emoji).

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

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ATLvDC

 

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

By Robyn Saghini // @robynsaghini

Sunday, April 30: 1-3 Loss

I am really struggling to find something to write about. There wasn’t much good that came out of Sunday’s game. We scored two goals, but one was an own goal… We dominated the game, stats-wise, but we still lost… No red cards, but we ended up having a player suspended anyway.

Sunday morning started out cloudy and a little rainy. Shortly after noon, the sun came out and brought the humidity with it. I’m not sure it affected the players, but it did affect the crowd a little. Drinking adult beverages for 4 hours at the tailgate + temperatures over 85 degrees (in April!?) made things a bit uncomfortable in the stands. I heard that several people had to be treated for possible dehydration. I drank two bottles of water in the second half alone.

I was, however, really excited about this game because my favorite soccer store set up a tent at the Terminus Legion tailgate and I finally got my training jersey personalized with Leandro Gonzalez Pirez‘s name and number on it, completing my Argentinean trio of jerseys.

The game itself started off pretty well for Atlanta United. We controlled the game for about the first 25 minutes before it all went to hell. Tito Villalba had two shots in less than two minutes – both of which were saved by Bill Hamid. In the 9th minute, Miguel Almiron snagged the ball just outside the box and passed to Greg Garza, who tapped the ball to Yamil Asad. Asad slid to his right to get around a DC United defender and lifted a cross right into the path of Kenwyne Jones, who headed the ball into the back of the net. A few minutes later, Jones had another chance, but the ball went wide of the net.

In the 25th minute, DC got their first goal by way of an unfortunate own goal by Michael Parkhurst. Parky was probably a half step too late to touch that ball and ended up deflecting it past Alec Kann into the net. This was about when the game started to go downhill for Atlanta.

While we still managed to dominate the game (see the graphic below), Atlanta couldn’t manage to get the ball past Hamid. We had 26 shots. TWENTY SIX. And 74% possession. How about that passing accuracy, too? I still don’t know how we didn’t win this game.

Yamil Asad was shown a yellow card in the second half for raising his elbow while going in to take the ball away from Lloyd Sam. I’ve watched the clip a few times and it doesn’t look like any contact was actually made, but DisCo reviewed the tape and ended up suspending Asad for a game anyway. That kid really needs to learn to keep his elbows down (no more listening to Ludacris’ “Southern Hospitality” before games, I guess). I’m considering bringing duct tape to the next home game for him.

I feel like there was something off about our defense this week. Was it because Jeff Larentowicz was out (concussion protocol)? I can’t put my finger on it, but I hope they work out the kinks in practice this week and get it together for NYCFC next weekend.

Our next two games are away – in two of the trickiest stadiums to play in. Yankee Stadium because of it’s weird dimensions and the following week in Portland because of Timbers Army. With any luck, the slightly odd dimensions of Bobby Dodd and the crazy ATL crowd will have prepared the boys for what they’re about to face.

Featured image courtesy: atlutd.com

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