March 8, 2020 Atlanta: Atlanta United midfielder Emerson Hyndman defends against FC Cincinnati in a MLS soccer match on Saturday, March 8, 2020, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/Curtis Compton
Photo: Curtis Compton/Curtis Compton

Analyzing Atlanta United’s group in MLS tournament

A look at three other teams in Atlanta United’s group in the coming MLS tournament in Orlando:

Cincinnati

Last year’s record: 24 points; 12 at home, 12 on the road. 

Last year’s meetings: 1-1 draw March 10 at home and 3-1 win Sept. 18 away.

This year’s record: 0-2-0 with minus-2 goal difference.

This year’s meeting: 2-1 win at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Analysis: This was one of the worst teams in MLS history last season, its first in MLS. But it started to gain some traction in the final one-third after ownership realized it had vested itself in the wrong general manager and wrong coach, who selected many players that everyone else could see weren’t going to work, especially for the price paid to acquire. 

New general manager Gerard Nijkamp seems to have a long-term plan, which includes hiring Jaap Stam as manager. 

The team added former Atlanta United striker Brandon Vazquez, who with consistent minutes has the potential to be a very good player in MLS, and Juergen Locadia. It added former Philadelphia midfielder Haris Medunjanin, who isn’t the quickest cat, but can unlock a defense with a pass and is good at free kicks. The club added Swedish centerback Tom Pettersson, who should be an upgrade on the enigmatic Kendall Waston. It also added versatile defender Saad Abdul-Salaam. 

Doug’s thoughts: Even without Josef Martinez, this should be an important three points for Atlanta United.

New York Red Bulls

Last year’s record: 48 points; 30 at home, 18 on the road. 

Last year’s meetings: 1-0 loss May 19 away and 3-3 draw July 7 at home. 

This year’s record: 1-0-1 with plus-1 goal difference.

Analysis: The Red Bulls have already beaten Cincinnati 3-2 in the season opener, and drew Real Salt Lake 1-1 on the road in a game in which it was outplayed.

Goalkeeper Luis Robles is gone. Bradley Wright-Phillips is gone. Michael Murillo is gone. Kemar Lawrence is gone. But it’s a team that still has a lot of potential with Brian White, Cristian Casseres and Daniel Royer, who led last year’s team with 11 goals and remains one of the league’s better players. The team still has the centerback tandem of Tim Parker, who is overrated, and Aaron Long, who is underrated. 

Doug’s thoughts: Atlanta United has never beaten the Red Bulls in a regular-season game. It will have to draw on muscle memory from when it defeated the Red Bulls in the 2018 playoffs to improve its chances of winning this one.

Columbus

Last year’s record: 38 points; 23 at home, 15 on the road.

Last year’s meetings: 2-0 loss March 30 away and 3-1 loss Sept. 14 at home.

This year’s record: 1-0-1 with plus-1 goal difference.

Analysis: The Crew arguably had the two toughest games of anyone to start the season but did well with a 1-0 win against NYCFC at MAPFRE Stadium and a 1-1 draw at Seattle, the reigning league champs.

The team is very strong up the spine with the addition of former Atlanta United midfielder Darlington Nagbe and playmaker Lucas Zelarayan, as well as goalkeeper Eloy Room and centerback Vito Wormgoor.

This is a team that can control the ball and tempo, which is invaluable in a tournament format.

Doug’s thoughts: I think this will be one of the better teams in MLS this season and will be a tough three points to earn for Atlanta United.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.

Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.

About the Author

Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson
Doug Roberson covers the Atlanta United and Major League Soccer.
X