Few sides can point to the amount of following, pedigree and stature that Frank De Boer’s Atlanta side currently have. Worth approximately $500 million, the most of any side in Major League Soccer, Atlanta United will be coming into this season’s MLS 2020 predictions knowing that a deep run in the postseason is an absolute bare minimum.
However, in comparison to other sides around the country, The Five Stripes have yet to really stamp their authority in the transfer market and there’s some debate over whether or not De Boer will be able to push his team to the heights they should be aiming for.
Going into the 2019 campaign as reigning MLS Cup Champions, De Boer’s new side made a pretty torrid start to the regular season, putting up a 1-3-2 record in their first six games and sitting all the way down in 20th in the overall table.
Quality usually shines through in Major League Soccer however and Atlanta soon set to work showing off why they were tipped as preseason favourites in our MLS parlays, embarking on a run of five straight wins across April and May.
It was pretty much a tale of two sides from then on out however, with Atlanta pulling together a home record of 12-2-3 but slumping to a pretty horrendous road run of 6-10-1 during the regular season.
The Five Stripes were able to crown themselves as US Open Cup champions in August, beating Minnesota United 2-1 in a home field final, and entered the postseason second in the Eastern Conference and third in the overall league.
They overcame the Revs and Union to make another Eastern Final, but their season ended up falling short as they dropped to a 1-2 loss to Toronto.
It’s hard to look past Josef Martinez again, isn’t it? The former Torino striker had another prolific season in front of goal for the Five Stripes, netting 27 goals in the league and 33 in total. The Ecuadorian striker is blessed with pace, power and remains the kind of player built for Major League Soccer.
Pity Martinez is a genuine creative talent at the spear of the Atlanta attack, having signed in the summer of 2019 for a record fee of $17,000,000 from River Plate. His dazzling skills and immense ball control has been the key to unlocking defences since his arrival and he will be crucial in keeping Atlanta at the top of this year’s tree.
This could be crunch year for Frank De Boer’s Five Stripes. The loss of German talisman Julian Gressel to D.C. United is pretty baffling to us and will undoubtedly hit Atlanta in their attacking phases. Gressel had played 110 games for Atlanta and arrives in D.C. on the back of his most productive season of 8 goals and his record of 35 assists in his first three seasons Stateside shows exactly how hard it will be replacing the frontman.
All in all, Atlanta should have another solid, pretty successful campaign in the East. Their home record at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium throughout 2019 was effectively what saw them break the postseason last campaign, and we back them to find a similar kind of form again this year.
They should have no problem making the postseason again, but don’t be surprised to see the likes of Union, D.C., Toronto and potentially even the Revs sneak up on them for the top two spot.
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