clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Three questions with Dirty South Soccer

New, comment

We spoke with Haris Kruskic of Dirty South Soccer, SB Nation's Atlanta United FC blog, about the upcoming match between the Union and ATL.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Atlanta United FC
What the hell, Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Eugene Rupinski - Brotherly Game) Atlanta has come into the league and really established a name for themselves, currently sitting just below the red line yet with a better points-per-game than the sixth place Montreal Impact. What has this franchise done right to position themselves where they are?

Haris Kruskic - Dirty South Soccer) A few things of course. First, the Atlanta United front office showed early on in their building of the roster that they were committed to investing in young, exciting players that they could build around for years to come. Sure Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, and Hector Villalba aren't household names yet, but their impact on the club's inaugural season has been absolutely vital.

Now with that being said, Atlanta likely wouldn't have been able to attract Almiron or Martinez without the hire of Gerardo Martino. To this day that's still the boldest move made by the club. Having a world-renowned coach known for developing younger players brought in quite a few from the Argentine league, including Almiron who was at one point in discussions with Arsenal and Chelsea.

Martino has been committed to the same playing style since day one, and that consistency has translated through the performance of the players, even though it's still a relatively new scheme that they've all had to learn. I really can't say enough about this club and their progression through the inaugural season, both on the pitch and off.

tBG) This is the first time our clubs will meet. Give the readers in Philadelphia who don't know much about Atlanta United a sense of the club both on the pitch and in the stands.

DSS) Martino implements an attack-minded system built on possession and pace. Up top you have Martinez who'll look to make runs and hopefully get creative with the ball at his feet inside the box. Almiron is our midfield maestro, who orchestrates passes to Martinez and wingers making runs, but also does a tremendous job of tracking back to make tackles. Left back Greg Garza and right back Anton Walkes aren't afraid in the slightest to join the attack when given an opportunity. This does leave our center backs to fend for themselves often during opposing counter-attacks, but that's a risk Martino is willing to take. Overall, I think we play a very attractive form of soccer, but are certainly susceptible to counters and frustration when the team isn't able to break down defenses.

In the stands, I think Atlanta already has one of the top two or three fanbases in MLS. We're averaging an attendance of over 46,000 per match, which currently leads MLS and has us on pace to break the all-time attendance record for a season. Once we move into Mercedes-Benz Stadium, two of our home matches will be able to host up to 75,000, rather than the reduced capacity of 42,500 that will be used for the other matches. If we can sell out either of those matches, that will shatter the single-match attendance record for MLS. There's also close to 35,000 season ticket holders, which is the most ever for an expansion side's inaugural season.

We've had many people who aren't soccer fans come to different DSS writers and tell us that the atmosphere at Atlanta matches is unlike anything they've ever experienced at a sporting event. That's really special, and one can only hope this frantic interest in soccer continues to build the game in the Southeast. Martino implements an attack-minded system built on possession and pace. Up top you have Martinez who'll look to make runs and hopefully get creative with the ball at his feet inside the box. Almiron is our midfield maestro, who orchestrates passes to Martinez and wingers making runs, but also does a tremendous job of tracking back to make tackles. Left back Greg Garza and right back Anton Walkes aren't afraid in the slightest to join the attack when given an opportunity. This does leave our center backs to fend for themselves often during opposing counter-attacks, but that's a risk Martino is willing to take. Overall, I think we play a very attractive form of soccer, but are certainly susceptible to counters and frustration when the team isn't able to break down defenses.

In the stands, I think Atlanta already has one of the top two or three fanbases in MLS. We're averaging an attendance of over 46,000 per match, which currently leads MLS and has us on pace to break the all-time attendance record for a season. Once we move into Mercedes-Benz Stadium, two of our home matches will be able to host up to 75,000, rather than the reduced capacity of 42,500 that will be used for the other matches. If we can sell out either of those matches, that will shatter the single-match attendance record for MLS. There's also close to 35,000 season ticket holders, which is the most ever for an expansion side's inaugural season.

We've had many people who aren't soccer fans come to different DSS writers and tell us that the atmosphere at Atlanta matches is unlike anything they've ever experienced at a sporting event. That's really special, and one can only hope this frantic interest in soccer continues to build the game in the Southeast.

tBG) What is the key to stopping Atlanta? Is there something the Union can take away from the match against D.C. United and use to their advantage?

DSS) Absolutely there is. When opposing clubs like D.C. United sit back and defend, Atlanta hasn't shown almost any ability to break them down. We're the Liverpool of MLS. So, although it's certainly not the prettiest of strategies, it is very effective against Atlanta.

Injuries: Alec Kann, Kenwyne Jones, Mark Bloom

Suspensions: Carlos Carmona

Predicted Lineup: 4-3-3

Brad Guzan; Greg Garza, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst, Anton Walkes; Kevin Kratz, Jeff Larentowicz, Miguel Almiron; Yamil Asad, Hector Villalba, Josef Martinez