Yes, that MLS is Back tournament in Orlando was quite a letdown considering Atlanta United’s terrific start in the 2020 MLS season. Trouble started as star player Josef Martinez was ruled out of the season. His presence and how he affects the team is even more evident now that he is not on the field. Martinez has had a massive impact on the team with his attacking firepower. The fact that Atlanta United failed to register a single goal shows how much Martinez’s presence was missed.
Atlanta United now needs to make necessary changes to their offensive attack. The majority of signings that manager Frank de Boer has made consisted of midfielders. While that has helped them in build-up play and unlocking tough defenses, there is a certain level of athleticism that the club is missing. What made them so dominant in the Martino era was the speed they had with players like Miguel Almiron. With his departure, the club has yet to sign another player of his caliber, and perhaps that has been the reason why they have found it difficult to unlock defenses. By adding fast attackers, they can get behind enemy lines easier. That should be one of Atlanta United’s top tweaks.
Other than their attacking options, they also need to bolster their defensive line. The MLS is Back tournament exposed the lack of experience and the lack of athleticism- they were being outrun and hit on the counter. An athletic center back should be a top priority if the club wants to run a 3 center back-formation. To optimize the 3 center back-formation, the center backs, especially the ones on the left and right, must have the ability to track wingers and challenge them as needed. Atlanta United showed these errors during the tournament. They should prioritize looking for a new center back to strengthen the defense.
What separates top teams from other teams is their ability to remain consistent, their ability to adapt, their ability to identify points of improvement, and their ability to find new players. It is without a doubt that Atlanta United is one of those top teams. Despite the arduous tournament, with a few key changes, Atlanta United can return to being on top of their game.