FUEL Soccer Talk: United’s opening statement; Atlanta questions; Team chemistry

The All-MLS version of Fuel Talk

D.C. United show how good they can be when united

While some might choose to analyze the struggles of the defending champions (which, of course, we will here on FUEL Talk – see below), it’s also worth noting the play of the other team on the pitch Sunday night in D.C. United’s 2-0 win over Atlanta.
Despite poor weather conditions (steady rain and cold), the overall play was of high quality in the season opener for both teams. And it was D.C. United that stood out, really dominating this game and limiting the visitors to really only one quality scoring chance. In fact, D.C. United out-shot Atlanta 17-9 with only two shots on target for the Atlanta attack.
Only a few ticks from halftime, D.C. United broke the scoreless tie with a goal from Paul Arriola following a corner kick. Both Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta were credited with assists. Early in the second half, Acosta took a “curvey” shot that bounced on the wet grass that Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan couldn’t handle clean and the ball skipped into the net for the home team’s second goal.
D.C. United showed that when engaged they can be a very dangerous team and might be ready to challenge for the top of the Eastern Conference. They have a few things on their side including a favorable road schedule (they travel less miles than any team) and a strong home-field advantage (they are 13-2-2 at the beautiful new Audi Field). If Acosta (in his final year of his contract) and Rooney stay interested and the team remains healthy, D.C. United could be a favorite to win it all. They certainly showed that potential in the opening game against the defending champions.

What are the keys for D.C. United to contend for the MLS Cup?

More questions than answers for the defending champions

USA Today Sports Images

After winning the MLS Cup in just their second MLS season, Atlanta United FC has the makings to make another run to the top in 2019. But there are some big challenges ahead for the defending champions. They lost their coach (Coach of the Year Tata Martino) and best midfielder (Miguel Almiron).
But they brought in coach Frank de Boer (a manager who’s won the UEFA Champions League) and added 2018 South American Player of the Year Pity Martinez. They also have Josef Martinez, who won three Most Valuable Player awards (MLS season, MLS All-Star Game, MLS Cup) and claimed the Golden Boot by setting the league’s all-time single-season scoring record with 31 goals.
The biggest challenge will be how they navigate Concacaf Champions League matches (ask Toronto FC).
This MLS opener came between two midweek Concacaf Champions League matches and Atlanta opted for a near full strength lineup. Pity Martinez and Julian Gressel didn’t start – Martinez came on at the 59th minute for his MLS debut.
Atlanta plays Liga MX side Monterrey at 10 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday. It will be interesting to see how Atlanta responds and if they regret not resting more players for such a big game.

Are you concerned with how Atlanta looked on Sunday night?

Team Chemistry is a formula for success’s Calen Carr and Charlie Davies talk about the role of team chemistry played in Peter Vermes’ success with Sporting Kansas City.

How important is team chemistry to success on the pitch?

LET’S TALK: OK, now you’ve read what’s on my mind…what are your thoughts on the above or any other “football” happenings?

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Main photo courtesy of MLS