Dec. 9, 2018

On Dec. 8, 2018, Atlanta joined won MLS Cup. Top top Dec. 9, lover manager Tata Martino departed Atlanta, heading southern to take over the Mexican nationwide Team. “El Tata” had actually lead the five Stripes to glory after just two year of existence. And also without question, he left big shoes to to fill for the brand-new manager. That man turned the end to it is in Frank de Boer, whose tumultuous reign ended yesterday after three losses, and zero goals, at the MLS is back Tournament.

Martino’s leave one job after to win MLS Cup signified a adjust in manager. And that administer failings space being questioned at length today. However the trade of trustworthy left-sided defender Greg Garza ~ above Dec. 9, 2018, additionally embodied a huge shift on the personnel side, together the society would lose much of its core over the comes years.

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At the time of the Garza trade, the move might have appeared a shrewd piece of business. Atlanta would have the ability to reinvest the money. And also considering the 5 Stripes’ brass enjoyed a can’t-miss an initial two seasons that experienced them bring in the likes the Miguel Almirón, Josef Martinez, Darlington Nagbe, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Carlos Carmona, Yamil Asad, Julian Gressel, mile Robinson, and also more, it to be fair enough to trust the dealing Garza was for the best.

But then, the society signed oft-criticized Brek Shea to replace Garza. And also after Shea struggled for type and ultimately succumbed come a knee injury in July, the society finished the season v journeyman Mikey Ambrose and 18-year old George Bello as the 2 left backs on the roster. In the end, de Boer opted for neither, and also played Justin Meram, an attack player, or Florentin Pogba, a natural facility back, on the left next of defense, often using them as wing backs.

The relocate from Martino to de Boer stood for a readjust of culture in Atlanta. Yet the departure of Garza was perhaps just as symbolic, together the club’s failed search for a instead of would come to be a theme across the squad.

Indeed, candid de Boer is gone. But the civilization who rental him, and also then doubled under on him and also his mechanism after a rocky start, are currently left come clean increase the mess. And they quiet have many questions to answer.

The de Boer Era

De Boer’s time in Atlanta i will not ~ be regarded fondly. And why must it? The Dutchman rubbed plenty of players the not correct way, and also insisted top top a possession-based layout of play that was extremely demanding native a physical and also mental standpoint and also was never executed repetitively on the pitch.

The team “won two trophies,” as we hear often. The is factually true, and those trophies can’t be taken away. But here’s what’s also factually true: among the trophies was won by to win a single game versus a club America team that was finishing its preseason and also had however to begin its Liga MX Clausura campaign. The various other was a U.S. Open Cup operation in i m sorry the team beat the Charleston Battery (USL), Columbus Crew (finished 10th in the eastern Conference), Saint luigi FC (USL), Orlando City (finished 11th in the east Conference) and also a house match versus Minnesota unified (finished 4th in west Conference).

Despite the warning signs, the society backed and also retained de Boer ~ a promise end-of season operation that was backed by silverware previously mentioned. Yet then, they went a action further, overhauling the roster and also ditching a slew the familiar faces in donate of others who would better fit the Dutchman’s system.

In 2020, Atlanta’s personnel department plainly committed come the mechanism that FdB preferred, and also failed, come implement at the beginning of 2019. In February, her truly created that while plenty of found Atlanta’s philosophy to be directionless, that direction to be actually quite defined, and the inquiry was an ext so whether it to be the appropriate one, together Atlanta’s front Office cursed to de Boer’s format by bringing in players who fit his system tactically.

First, castle signed number of attacking complete backs simply to beat in de Boer’s shape and also style, which calls for his large defenders come bomb forward and provide width in assault — players favor Brooks Lennon, Edgar Castillo, and also Jake Mulraney stood for such. Atlanta likewise looked for increased production indigenous young George Bello, one more player that fits the mold that an attacking full back or wing back.

Signings like that the Brooks Lennon indicated that Atlanta joined wanted more speed on the flanks. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY sporting activities In the middle, Atlanta lost a vital piece in Darlington Nagbe, a an essential cog for the team’s capacity to maintain possession in a system that insisted Atlanta control the ball and also tempo that matches. Atlanta changed Nagbe with two players of comparable profiles in Emerson Hyndman and also Matheus Rosseto, both box-to-box mids known for efficient passing (NO i AM no SAYING EITHER space AS an excellent AS NAGBE i have WATCHED THE GAMES).

In the back, Atlanta offered Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and promptly replaced him through Fernando Meza. Gonzalez Pirez, an iconic figure in Atlanta, was recognized for his fearlessness and also risk-taking both with and also without the ball. He additionally spoke the end publicly against De Boer’s methods. Meza however, was a far better fit for de Boer, recognized for his fast and simple passing game and also efficient defensive work.

Atlanta also sold Tito Villalba end the offseason, another club legend that was one of the club’s finest attackers before an injury-laden 2019 wherein he struggled because that form. However the winger to be a an ext direct player who excelled out vast behind his pace, a place we haven’t often seen in FdB’s tactics, wherein he expects his attackers to play more narrowly and also combine together. And also thus, the 5 Stripes chose to cash in on him.

In all, Atlanta’s former Office sent a clear article last offseason with its moves: We earlier Frank de Boer and his way of playing, despite some questioning both.

Subtraction by Addition

Regardless of de Boer’s countless failings together manager in Atlanta, other decision-makers in ~ the club haven’t covered themselves in glory, either. Together discussed, castle purposefully overhauled the squad to accommodate de Boer. Yet in spite of their efforts, Atlanta gone into 2020 through a seemingly weaker roster than 2019.

Nagbe’s ultimate departure was something the club had prepared for, v him asking to be traded in the 2019 preseason, before playing the end the year in sparkling form. But even through so much time to work out on a contingency plan, the club opted come stick through Hyndman, that to his credit has been a hard player throughout his time in Atlanta. But then yes sir Rossetto, who barely play at MLS is Back. The jury is still out on these players in Atlanta, yet the drop turn off from Nagbe’s production has been glaringly apparent this season, through the 5 Stripes having actually clear problems breaking the opposition’s push (as we discussed in the “Film Room” collection HERE and HERE) or develop chances after going scoreless in every three team matches.

Atlanta unified never identified how to play efficiently without midfielder Darlington Nagbe. Jason Getz-USA TODAY sporting activities Meantime, Julian Gressel’s departure in February to be an evident blow. However knowing that his contract situation was an issue, the club would have known his leaving was a actual possibility. And also who was expected to replace the German’s eight goals and also 12 assists from 2019? Hyndman and also Rossetto were never ones to placed up these varieties of numbers at his point out in the center of midfield, and also Lennon at ideal wing back wasn’t walk to change that production in Gressel’s other usual position either. Was the arrangement to place every one of that pressure on a hopefully-healthy ezequiell Barco, a hopefully-better 2nd season indigenous Pity Martinez, and also of course, the now-injured Josef Martinez?

Meanwhile, as we watched Atlanta fail come score a solitary goal in MLS is back (the only team to achieve such a dubious feat), the decision to offer super sub Villalba looks even worse. And in the end, Atlanta could only seal a loan transaction for Manuel Castro, an unheralded vast player who had fallen the end of donate at his existing club, to to fill Villalba’s shoes.

Meza’s performances in location of Pirez have actually yielded bad results. The Argentine played fine at times, however made too plenty of individual errors in ~ MLS is back that stuck out. And also while the defense has actually looked to it is in Atlanta’s most resolved positional unit, the commitment to attack-minded wing backs has actually proved costly, as they were caught high increase the pitch on a multitude that occasions, resulting in the opposition respond to attacking into the an are left vacant, as we experienced for the winning score for new York Red Bulls in the an initial group match.

Whether it be in the midfield, attack, or defense, we can now say the the Atlanta former Office’s plan to support their manager through the ideal personnel to be a failure.

It’s no That Bad

As Atlanta unified embark ~ above the next step after their recent failure under de Boer, it’s vital to note that the society aren’t precisely in the doldrums the MLS. And also Josef Martinez’ loss to be likely always going to make 2020 a an overwhelming year anyway.

Despite the doom and also gloom, there are some positives for the future. Bello has presented flashes and looks to have damaged into the first team, Barco and Pity room still a dangerous attacking duo, v the former having immense sell-on value. At the back, the defense conceded less than 1 xG in two of your three team stage matches. And hopefully, through the manager gone, the players can get a breath of fresh air and enjoy your football a bit an ext in attack.

MLS is a fickle league, with teams relocating up and down the table in ~ a quick pace. And with the resources and also talent at its disposal, yes no factor that Atlanta united can’t be back near the peak of MLS, and also soon.

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However, if the prior office brass swing and also miss again, as they mainly have due to the fact that the departures that Garza and Martino in December that 2018, they may discover themselves fearing the very same fate together Frank de Boer.