2. This is Frank de Boer’s team now
Atlanta United have drastically changed since taking the pitch for their first competitive match just three years ago. Under Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino and with a player like Miguel Almiron, the Five Stripes were an attacking, electrifying team that took both the city of Atlanta and MLS by storm in its first two seasons. But after both Martino and Almiron left, the team began to transition into a new era under new coach Frank de Boer.
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This transition has been anything but smooth, but with a new coach, change is a natural byproduct. After a full season under de Boer and a mass exodus of players during this past offseason, it appears this new era is finally stabilizing. That much was evident on the pitch Tuesday night.
Motagua began the match with a solid mix of pressing and sitting back to defend. Yet, Atlanta handled both the press and low block defense fairly well. When Motagua pressed, Atlanta calmly passed around in deep areas before moving through the opposition, even if it was stressful for some fans to watch. When Motagua sat back, United methodically worked their way up the field to create a decent number of chances.
Gone are the high-flying, speedy, Almiron-led counter-attacks. Under de Boer, Atlanta look determined to beat teams with the ball. One positive byproduct of this transition into a possession-first team is solidarity at the back. Motagua failed to register a single shot on goal, meaning Atlanta nearly played this match to perfection. This is de Boer’s team now.