Atlanta United needs to fix these three areas to help their identity crisis
December of 2018 is a long time ago. A new manager, a new DP, a new style had taken over Atlanta United after the dreamland of being MLS Champions. But in 2020, disappointments are coming harder and faster than excitements. Going scoreless at the MLS is Back tournament and losing for the first time ever against Orlando, highlight only a couple of results that have plagued the club.
Here are the three areas that Atlanta United need to start moving in the right direction.
After Michael Parkhurst‘s retirement, nobody truly stepped in to be the leader on the pitch. Jeff Larentowicz is the listed captain, but with limited minutes and limited influence during those 90 minutes, there is a void of authority.
Of course, things are different now that Frank de Boer is gone, but even during the 2019 season, Parkhurst was there to guide the squad through the rough patches. With de Boer solely in command, the lack of tactical leadership came to light.
Stephen Glass is only a temporary solution to the managerial issue. If the club wants to reestablish some sort of leadership and identity this season, they need to act swifter in signing a permanent replacement.
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When things are going wrong off the pitch, or in the front office, there is still an expectation that the players with perform within their range of ability. Unfortunately, Atlanta United has lost any significant playstyle that people have become accustomed to.
Part of that is down to the tactical differences between de Boer and Tata Martino, but players like Ezequiel Barco, for example, look completely dejected in the final third.
The injury to Josef Martinez and the potential loss of Pity Martinez change the dynamics of the squad entirely. The lack of depth in those positions and difference between the starting XI and replacements are too large.
De Boer’s time at Atlanta also highlighted the influence of Darren Eales and Arthur Blank to dictate transfers. It has become apparent that whoever the manager is, they may not have as much of a voice on the personnel of the squad than they would like.
This creates a gap in communication between who the manager may want, and who Eales and Blank are willing to pay for. The same works in the reverse, which has been hotly contested ahead of the 2020 season.
Tito Villalba, Darlington Nagbe, Julian Gressel, Justin Meram, and LGP all out before the start of the season. Luiz Fernando waived and Dion Perreira released. That is far too much of a shakeup for any manager to handle. Especially so for Frank de Boer as he struggled to establish an attractive style of play. The communication of the club’s direction needs to be clearer for whoever is next in charge.