Atlanta United’s 2020 campaign was a disappointing one. While the Five Stripes were among the top teams in the MLS in their first three seasons, they came in second place in the Eastern Conference last year. Josef Martinez, a star forward, only played three games before torning his ACL. Pity Martinez was so disappointed that the club allowed him to transfer to Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia after seven games.
- Chances of winning 2021 MLS: +1800 (April 20,21)
Atlanta United has more modest expectations in 2021. Gabriel Heinze is the new manager of the Five Stripes. He will be focusing on defense after nearly two decades playing for the top European defenders. They added Alan Franco, a designated Independiente player, shortly before the season began for just $3 million.
Ezequiel Barrco will be an offensive midfielder and support Martinez on the attack. Martinez seems to be fit and ready to go. There are many faces on the roster that won the MLS Cup three years ago, including some new ones.
Atlanta’s Attack is Getting Better
Atlanta was defeated by a more tactically competent Columbus team on Saturday, thanks to Jonathan Mensah’s 65-minute header. This match was Rob Valentino’s second as interim manager.
Crew was subject to pressure from the United side for much of the first hour. They chose their moments to respond with speed.
Atlanta was unable to keep up with the international duty or injury of more than half-dozen of its players, so Columbus won.
However, the eye test shows that there has been an improvement in attack since Valentino replaced Gabriel Heinze. xG totals reflect these games as the most dangerous attacking nights in Atlanta this season.
This is especially remarkable considering Valentino received virtually no training time following his takeover during the second of three games within eight days.
Valentino’s trust and faith in Josef Martinez, club’s all-time leader in scoring, is a striking difference. He played all 90 minutes Saturday in his debut start since May. Martinez’s fitness may have paid off, though he clearly waned in the end.
After leaving Columbus in the 32nd minute, Jake Mulraney, a midfielder is now questionable.
Pick & Analysis of Betting
Although the Atlanta team isn’t quite as dynamic as the 2018 MLS Cup-winning side in 2018, their attacking improvement is evident.
On offense, Orlando was only shut out twice and averaged 1.75 goals when Nani plays. They are not the same team defensively as they were in their first six games.
Orlando is my favorite winner. However, Dike and Akindele are absent so I hesitate to take the three-way.
I feel a bit better about the idea that both relatively rested offenses can grab at least a goal here. With -141 odds, and an implied 58.5% probability, it’s a fair price to make. However, I wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than -150.Last Updated on November 18, 2021