Atlanta United host FC Cincinnati this Saturday night for the 2020 season home opener. Here are three key players to watch.
Atlanta United have made an excellent start to the 2020 season. They drew on the road to Honduran side Motagua in CCL, then dominated the same team 3-0 a week later in Kennesaw. They then followed up that performance with an admirable 2-1 road win over expansion side Nashville SC to secure their first-ever Opening Day victory in MLS.
Yet, the general mood in Atlanta is not a positive one, and there is just one reason why. Josef Martinez is most likely lost for the season. Atlanta supporters are moving on from the depression stage of processing their grief, but as they begin to accept the loss of Martinez in 2020, they turn their emotions towards Saturday night when the Five Stripes host FC Cincinnati.
Those high preseason expectations still remain, even without Martinez, and Frank de Boer and co. will be scrambling for a solution. With that in mind, here are three players to watch in this weekend’s home opener.
3. Adam Jahn
Atlanta United do not have much striker depth. In fact, there is just one true striker available for this weekend given Josef Martinez’s injury status. That is Adam Jahn. Sure, it’s possible that head coach Frank de Boer will alter the team’s formation. but it is more likely that he will stick with what the team knows, even with Martinez on the sidelines.
Under that assumption, it is safe for Atlanta fans to expect Jahn to start. Those same fans have a mixed history with Jahn, dating all the way back to October 2017 when he scored the match-winning penalty kick to send the Columbus Crew through to the next round of the playoffs. He subsequently shushed the Atlanta fans, and though most have forgotten that moment, it was recently revived when Jahn’s signing was announced.
Since the announcement, he has done nothing but interact with fans on social media in an attempt to win them over. It has worked so far, but the real test begins this weekend against Cincinnati as he attempts to do something no one can do: replace Martinez.
Most fans will be reasonable and accept that no one can possibly replace Martinez on the field. Some fans won’t be so rational and may come down hard on Jahn. He won’t be expected to score at the same rate that Martinez ever since Atlanta started playing, but if he disappears from matches, fans may not be so forgiving. All eyes will be on him.