October 30, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez battles against Toronto FC defenders in front of the Toronto FC goal during the second half in the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Atlanta United in 2020: Analyzing May in MLS

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Doug Roberson (@DougRobersonAJC) breaks down Atlanta United’s schedule by month in this series. Here is February and March. Here is April.

May 3 vs. Real Salt Lake

Time/TV: 3 p.m., FSSO/FSSE. 

Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Last year’s record: 53 points; 37 at home, 16 on the road. 

Last year’s meeting: 2-1 loss on May 24 away. 

Notable changes: Well, Brooks Lennon is gone. He’s now an Atlanta United player. So are Nick Rimando, Joao Plata and Danilo Acosta, among many others. That’s a lot. Not much of note has come in. It’s still a solid team, but I’m not as high on them as I was the previous two years. 

Doug’s thoughts: Three points for Atlanta United. 

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May 9 at Philadelphia Union 

Time/TV: TBD, FSSO/FSSE. 

Stadium: Talen Energy Stadium. 

Last year’s record: 55 points; 34 at home, 21 on the road. 

Last year’s meetings: 1-1 draw on March 17 at home and 3-1 loss on Aug. 31 away. 

Notable changes: The team declined to pick up an option on Haris Medunjanin, saw Marco Fabian leave without having made much of an impact in his single season and traded centerback Auston Trusty. Medunjanin was excellent at free-kicks and passing, but a liability on defense and when pressing. The team will try to replace him with Jose Andres Martinez. The keys for the Union are to keep Alejandro Bedoya healthy, Brenden Aaronson developing, and Kacper Przybylko (15 goals in 2019) going. Good teams are built up the spine: good goalkeepers, good centerbacks and central midfielders and good strikers. The Union have those ingredients. Andre Blake is one of the better goalkeepers in MLS. Mark McKenzie and Jack Elliott have the makings of being one of the better centerback tandems in the league and possibly the best in the East. Aaronson is still young but has shown flashes of being a very dependable player. Przybylko and Santos combined for 19 goals last year. This is a good team. Its worry will be if Andres Martinez and Aaronson don’t mesh, leaving a big hole in the middle, and if it can’t re-sign Jamiro Monteiro. 

Doug’s thoughts: This is going to be a tough game for Atlanta United, which was beaten at Philadelphia last season when it ran out of fumes in the final minutes of a long road trip. Three points dropped is my expectation. 

If you’ve never been to Philadelphia, please go. If you stay near Center City, you can walk to so many historical sites: the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Constitution Center, Portrait Gallery, Ben Franklin Museum, etc. Grab a sandwich at Campos. Go to dinner at City Tavern. It’s a fantastic city. 

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May 16 at New York Red Bulls 

Time/TV: 1 p.m., UniMas. 

Stadium: Red Bull Arena. 

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

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

Notable changes: Goalkeeper Luis Robles is gone. Bradley Wright-Phillips is gone. Michael Murillo is gone. Kemar Lawrence wants to be 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. The team still has the centerback tandem of Tim Parker, who is overrated, and Aaron Long, who is underrated. 

Doug’s thoughts: If this game were at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, I’d say it’s three points. But it’s in New Jersey, where Atlanta United can’t win, even when it plays with a man advantage for more than 50 minutes. 

As far as this being a road trip: hard pass. It’s easier to fly into Newark and take a ride-share to the stadium. 

May 24 vs. Inter Miami FC 

Time/TV: 6:30 p.m., FS1. 

Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Last year’s record: Not applicable. 

Last year’s meetings: Not applicable. 

Notable changes: Everything, starting with its stadium in Ft. Lauderdale. I have a lot of respect for Paul McDonough. I think he deserves far more credit than he received for Atlanta United’s success in its first three years, based upon his work in the construction of the initial roster. You can see that blue print in the construction of Miami: young, fast, exciting South Americans, such as Matias Pellegrini, with MLS veterans such as Robles, Victor Ulloa, A.J. DeLaGarza, Mikey Ambrose, Ben Sweat, Juan Agudelo and Roman Torres filling in gaps. 

Doug’s thoughts: I’ve made a lot of fun of Miami over the years because of its inability to find land to build a stadium. It appears that it will actually take the field this year. It’s a miracle. Seriously, The team hasn’t landed that global superstar that everyone expected. McDonough’s a smart man. He knows dead money on a huge transfer fee for an aging star is dead money. 

Three points to Atlanta United. 

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May 27 vs. Toronto FC 

Time/TV: 7:30 p.m., FSSO/FSSE. 

Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Last year’s record: 50 points; 31 at home, 19 on the road. 

Last year’s meetings: 2-0 win on May 8 at home and 3-2 loss on June 26 away. 

Notable changes: Not much has changed on the team that inexplicably knocked Atlanta United out of last year’s playoffs. Jozy Altidore is back. Michael Bradley is back, albeit no longer as a Designated Player. Alejandro Pozuelo is back. Omar Gonzalez is back. Nick DeLeon is back. 

Doug’s thoughts: This is a busy month for Atlanta United with one more game remaining. I think this will be a points-splitter. 

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May 30 at San Jose Earthquakes 

Time/TV: 6 p.m., UniMas. 

Stadium: Avaya Stadium. 

Last year’s record: 44 points; 32 at home, 12 on the road. 

Last year’s meeting: 3-1 win on Sept. 21 at home. 

Notable changes: Most of last year’s roster is back, with Cristian Epinoza’s loan turned into a signing and Judson’s option also picked up. But this team needs depth. Playing its up-tempo style, it ran out of gas twice last season: once near mid-season and then again toward the end. It failed to make the playoffs. 

Doug’s thoughts: San Jose is a beautiful city. I was there two years ago as part of the back-end of a two-game road trip covering Atlanta United. The trip started in Colorado and ended in Sane Jose with the crazy come-from-ahead 4-3 win. The stadium is across the interstate from the airport, so you can get in and out fairly easy. The view is beautiful. There’s a bar that runs the length of the end line. Within a 20-minute drive are Stanford, and the headquarters of Apple and Google, among others. The restaurants are fantastic and diverse. 

Oh, and three points to San Jose.

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