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ATL vs SEA – MLS Week 4

A hard fought game in Seattle ended in a 0 – 0 draw. While the result is one to be proud of, traveling to last years champions and earning a point, it was not won in glamorous fashion. For the first time this season Atlanta looked out played and out possessed for most of the match. The first half showed initial promise, with the majority of possession going to the visitors. The second half, on the other hand, left much to be desired from the point of Atlanta.

Julian Gressel, while being issued a yellow in the first half for a high tackle, showed the most energy on and off the ball. The young, first year draft pick out of Providence, showed up with a high work rate and tenacious style that dictated the center of the pitch. His aggressive style sets the tone in the middle of the park. The back four, Garza, Mears, Parkhurst, and Gonzalez Pirez, proved to be the difference in the match.

Atlanta played in a new 4-3-3 setup, and their inexperience and discomfort for the formation showed. The lack of width, in an already wider pitch, gave Seattle far too much space to possess the ball and dictate the run of play. Compensating for the loss of Josef Martinez, Hector Villalba lead the attack from the front. While there were spurts of brilliance, the overall consensus must be felt that missing Martinez is a critical blow to Atlanta’s attack.

All in all, the result is one to be proud of, however, the manner in which the result was achieved is far from ideal. Atlanta look forward to Toronto next week in game two of the extended road trip.

Three Weeks In… Things Look Good for ATL.

Three games in and Atlanta United look a formidable outfit. Following the home defeat in game one to NY Red Bulls (1-2), Atlanta bounced back with a 6-1 victory on the road at Minnesota. In what can only be described as a snow globe match, Atlanta looked the purely better side maintaining majority possession. Led by Josef Martinez, and the first hat trick in Atlanta United history, Atlanta looked almost comparable to a veteran squad.

Last Week Atlanta returned home to face Chicago Fire. It too was a cut and dry 4-0 victory for the hosts, making it the first home victory in club history. Some might argue that Atlanta was so dominant due to the sending off of Chicago Fire Midfielder, J. Kappelhof (#4), early in the first half, but, it was clear Atlanta had the momentum early on in this one and had no plans of letting off.

Josef Martinez netted two more in this match, including one that was named MLS, “Goal Of The Week.” Martinez and Garza were both named to the MLS, “Team Of The Week,” for the second consecutive week. Shortly after asserting his dominance in Minnesota and back in Atlanta, Martinez was converted from on loan to confirmed as a permanent transfer.20170318_200645833_iOS

Atlanta United Sign Fox Sports South TV Deal

Atlanta United FC and Fox Sports South announced this morning (2/21/17) that they have agreed upon a multi year TV deal. Starting in the 2017 MLS season, of which 19 games will be televised, including the home opener March 5th against the New York Red Bulls. The  remaining 15 games will be televised nationally by either ESPN, FOX Sports or Univision.

Atlanta United’s front office states it has sold over 27,000 season tickets for the home opener March 5th, which is more than half of the 40,000 in attendance.

Fox Sports has already dipped their proverbial toe in the soccer world by picking up the Barclays Premier League a few years ago. The MLS was a logical next step for the American network. Atlanta United will be hiring their own on air personalities, including play-by-play and sideline personnel.

Atlanta United Fall to Columbus Crew

Saturday marked the first MLS preseason match for Atlanta United FC, and set in motion the “March to March,” for the inaugural 2017 MLS campaign. Atlanta took on Columbus Crew in Charleston to open the 2017 Carolina Challenge Cup. At the half Atlanta led 1-0 off of an early header from Josef Martinez (#7). After the break, however, the experience of Columbus proved too much for the newly appointed Atlanta side to handle. After a brace from veteran forward, Federico Higuain, Columbus looked the more polished side holding out to finish the match 2-1.

Tata’s starting eleven looked just like the one from a few weeks ago in Chattanooga with one exception, Josef Martinez started in the place of Yamil Asad, who suffered a minor calf contusion in training prior to the match. Five changes were made in the second half, Jacob Peterson, Mark Bloom, Julian Gressel, Harrison Heath, and Andrew Carleton.

While it was not the result Atlanta United, and their fans, might have wanted, you must give credit where credit is due. After only one prior match, and it being Atlanta’s first taste of MLS competition, a 2-1 closely contested defeat is not a bad result. Preseason is about building up to the regular season and ironing out the kinks. For a first year side, it is not logical to have nothing to work on.

Michael Parkhurst Named Atlanta United FC’s First Captain

Tata and Atlanta United FC have named their first captain for the inaugural 2017 season. Michael Parkhurst, the American international, comes to Atlanta from the Columbus Crew, where he spent the past three seasons, accumulating 100 appearances.

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Parkhurst entered the MLS in 2005, when he won rookie of the year, and only two years later winning the MLS Defender of the Year Award, all at New England Revolution. In 2008 Parkhurst left New England, and the MLS, for FC Nordsjælland, of the Danish Superliga, where he appeared 106 times over 4 seasons. After a brief stint in the German Bundesliga with FC Augsburg, Parkhurst returned to the MLS for the Columbus Crew in 2014. From 2007 – 2014 Parkhurst represented the USMNT earning himself 25 international caps.

Parkhurst will play the role of engineer among Atlanta’s solid back four, which impressed in Chattanooga a few weeks ago.

2017 Carolina Challenge Cup

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Tomorrow (February 18, 2017) is the opening day for the 2017 Carolina Challenge Cup hosted by Atlanta United FC’s affiliate team the Charleston Battery.  Four (4) teams are competing this year; Atlanta United FC, Columbus Crew SC, Charleston Battery (Host), and Seattle Sounders FC.

Coming off an impressive performance in Chattanooga last weekend, Atlanta United FC look poised to take on their first MLS opponents a few weeks before their inaugural season kicks off on March 5th. This will be a great chance for many of the expat players to get acquainted with the MLS style and rate of play. Tata (ATL Manager), will also be given a better opportunity at gauging who will be the initial starting 11 for the upcoming season.

Columbus Crew SC finished 9th in the Eastern Conference in 2016 with only 36 points (8-12-14 record). With only one team in the East having a worse record than them, Columbus will be taking a fresh approach to the 2017 campaign and what better place to start than in Charleston?

Seattle Sounders FC are coming off a great season, having won the 2016 MLS playoffs only a few months ago. Seattle had an average season by their standards only finishing 4th in the Western Conference behind rivals LA Galaxy. After going on to win the MLS playoffs, spurned by young USA international, Jordan Morris, and the recent return of star man Clint Dempsey (USA), the Sounders look to be a formidable outfit. It is unknown weather Dempsey will make any appearances during the Carolina Challenge Cup, but, there is no doubt to his presence in the lineup come March.

Charleston Battery are close to home for Atlanta United FC as they are the sides USL affiliate. As the final lineup for Atlanta has yet to be confirmed, it is likely that at least a few of the players will find a home in Charleston come March. With only 9 international spots available and 13 current international players, Atlanta is faced with some hard decisions to field a MLS approved side.

 

The Game Schedule for this weekend is as follows:

Saturday:

ATL United FC vs Columbus Crew SC  –  Kickoff @ 4:30 pm (Gates Open: 3:00 pm)

Charleston Battery vs Seattle Sounders FC  –  Kickoff @ 7:00 pm

Sunday:

Charleston Battery vs Columbus Crews SC  –  Kickoff @ 5:00 pm (Gates Open: 3:30 pm)

ATL United FC vs Seattle Sounders FC  –  Kickoff @ 7:30 pm

Monday:

Seattle Sounders FC vs Columbus Crews SC  –  Kickoff @ 4:30 pm (Gates Ope: 3:00 pm)

Charleston Battery vs ATL United FC  –  Kickoff @ 7:00 pm

 

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