There's been a lot of talk about Atlanta United early in the season — how surprising has the team's start been? Is it as good as the hype?
If you ask a person who believed Atlanta United would be marred by the "expansion team curse", then they're obviously quite surprised by what Atlanta's been able to do to start the season. Being able to score 10 goals in 2 lopsided wins and then go on the road against last year's MLS Cup participants and gain a point from each is massive and a testament to Atlanta's front office.
If you ask most supporters in the city, they've certainly been true believers and have bought in to what this team has been doing ever since the Tata Martino hire. We at Dirty South Soccer ran a poll before the season began asking what the fan's expectations were heading in, and most believed we'd make the playoffs. So, I guess our start is really only surprising depending on who you ask. In my opinion, Atlanta is for real.
Josef Martinez has scored quite a few goals already. What's making him successful?
Martinez is so darn patient. If you look at his goals, a combination of perfectly timed runs and the awareness to understand the positioning of opposing keepers has allowed him to tear apart defenses. It seems so simple to him, and that's why he's brilliant.
After he netted a brace against Chicago, I was curious and wondered who exactly was ahead of him on the depth chart at Torino. I wanted to know why he wasn't getting a lot of opportunities in Italy, and then you read the names ahead of him: Andrea Belotti, Adem Ljajic, Iago Falque, and Juan Iturbe. It quickly became obvious he was never going to get that opportunity to become a mainstay at Torino, so Atlanta is quite fortunate to take that kind of talent off their hands.
It's a shame he won't play against RSL due to his quad injury, but he could be back as early as next week against D.C.
What do you expect from 2017? Are you expecting playoffs?
You know, before the season began, I didn't want to get too optimistic. I knew we had great players and a great coaching staff, but I guess I allowed the history of expansion sides to dictate my expectations. Well, not anymore. I'm fully on board with what I've seen from the club to start the season. I know it's still very early, but if we can keep this style of play up throughout most of the season, I certainly see us making the playoffs in our first season.