Is It A Rivalry NOW? Orlando City and Atlanta United: Round 2

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 05: The Atlanta United fans cheer during the game against the New York Red Bulls at Bobby Dodd Stadium on March 5, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 05: The Atlanta United fans cheer during the game against the New York Red Bulls at Bobby Dodd Stadium on March 5, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images) /

It all started with one move. Was it a panic move? Maybe. Is it a move that raises more questions than answers? Yep. But one guy returned home and Orlando’s soccer community flat-out broke…

The Return of Dom…

Which is cool and all… and could be thought of as adding to an offensively-challenged side that still doesn’t have a solution for issues in the middle. Or it could be thought of as insurance for the soon-to-be (we think) deal of Cyle Larin to Besiktas…

But for the short-term, it’s a Jason Kreis-led 4-3-1-2 with Larin and Dwyer up top and Kaka somewhere in behind…

Kreis seems convinced that this move is what his side needed to get above the Red Line:

"“We went into this window really trying to address one specific need in that we feel like we need to score more goals. We need to add players that can help us create goals as well as score goals. Looking through extensively at a lot of international players, it dawned on us that maybe the best idea would be to get somebody we really believed in the league. We asked the question of Kansas City, not thinking that it would even be a possibility but as you can see we went over the top and really showed our intent and our purpose to get a player that we very much value and we hope that he’s going to change things on the field but as well brings a little bit of a fresh energy to the guys that are here. We feel like that’s what we need.”"

The Lions head coach also seems to have some “run, run, run” on the mind with Dwyer in house now:

"“He’s a striker so it would be one of the two spots up top, if we play with two strikers. We may play with three. But if we consider that we’re playing with two strikers, he’ll be one of the players that will be considered for one of those two roles. If we play with one high striker he will be one that will be considered for that role. He’s a guy that I think is quite versatile.”"

But Orlando Still Has To Score…

And Atlanta United head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino knows the back line was big in the first leg, the 1-0 clean sheet last weekend. He talked about one guy, in particular, Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez:

"“We knew with [Cyle] Larin out that they could play with two forwards, both on the inside and so that’s what they did. Without Larin that’s how they lined up but what we wanted to do was drop our defensive midfielder back so that we would have a back line of three and be able to fall back when they were attacking.”"

Here’s your reminder of what happened last time in the Guzan debut, by the way…

Expect the back line that Atlanta United fans have seen all season- LGP, Parkhurst, Garza, and (more recently) Anton Walkes- to keep the threesome of Larin, Dwyer, and Kaka in check. Also, anticipate Jeff Larentowicz to drop back further and be, almost, a third center back to protect inside the 18′ and be active in the mixer.

The addition of Dwyer means someone sits… When the Starting XI comes out, everyone will get a better picture of how Orlando City thinks they’ll handle having a new guy up top, being on the road, and still having only won twice since May 1st.

But Is It A Rivalry?

Brad Guzan, after THE match in the series, like most of the players and coaches for Atlanta United is pumping the brakes more than just a bit after last week’s shut out:

"“I think you come into this environment, this atmosphere–it’s hostile. There are probably a few things going on off the pitch that you guys [media] made a big deal about. I think there are a few people including their manager that said, ‘Listen, rivalries aren’t just– you can’t just make them, they have to be formed.’ But with both of us being from the southeast, being so close to each other, two good teams, two attacking teams, I think that’s what it’s going to come down to.”"

What he said, for some in and around it…

Captain Michael Parkhurst looks like he can go either way after only one match:

"“Perhaps. I think it helps that there is two games right in a row. You build up momentum. But for us, for right now it doesn’t matter. They are an Eastern Conference team and they are right on our heels for a playoff spot. In those terms we are really, really happy with the win (Saturday). It is such a good boost and now we go home and face them. And hopefully follow up with another three points and take all six.”"

What To Watch For

Orlando will come onto the pitch with their hair on fire since a lot of people’s jobs are on the line from this moment forward in central Florida. If Atlanta United can diffuse that energy in the first 15 or so minutes of the first and second halves, the pace is theirs.

The match should be as well…

It’s a goodbye to Atlanta United’s first home at Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Expect the sell-out crowd to stay on the Lions the entire time and, for some next level fandom, Multiplex wonders aloud what the #5Stripes tifo will be in response to the “Walking Dead” one from last weekend.

Who Is Wearing Yellow And Have Whistles, Light Boards, And Flags:


Allen Chapman


Kyle Atkins, Peter Balciunas

Fourth Official:

Mark Kadlecik



Talent: John Strong (play-by-play)

Alexi Lalas (analyst),

Katie Witham (sideline reporter)

Local Radio:

WZGC 92.9 The Game

Talent: Adam Schick (play-by-play) and Jason Longshore (color)

Local Radio (Spanish):

La Mejor– AM 1600 (Atlanta), 1460 (Gwinnett), 1130 (Gainesville)

Talent: Armando Carrilo (play-by-play), Daniel Cantu (color) and

Jorge Avina (sideline).

So, is it a rivalry in your mind?

Dear Reader, here is your assignment… Log in below in the Comments Section and let us know at Multiplex if you think it’s a rivalry or not…