Taking a look at where Atlanta United is now and where it might be going as it enters the second half of the 2022 MLS season.
Atlanta United started off the season strong winning three of their first five games of the season. The Five Stripes had a solid position in the league table and it looked like Gonzalo Pineda's team would be a serious contender for MLS Cup and possibly even the Supporter's Shield.
And then the injuries started.
Players began to drop like flies and suddenly the team found itself missing three of its most important defensive pieces. Ever since Miles Robinson, Ozzie Alonso, and Brad Guzan sustained season-ending injuries, Atlanta has conceded 12 goals in seven games and averaged 1.7 goals conceded per game. Since those three injuries, the team has only managed one clean sheet against Inter Miami.
The team took quite the tumble and now finds itself in 11th place in the East, closer to the bottom of the table (three points) than the playoff line (five points). Needless to say, the team needs to turn things around quickly.
Winning a point against reigning MLS Champ NYCFC on their turf could give this team the morale boost they need to return to winning ways. That paired with the incoming defensive reinforcements of Juan Jose Purata and Raul Gudiño could mean the team is turning a corner and staging a second-half comeback (as they do so often during games).
Not convinced? Let's take a look back at last season.
When Atlanta United were 17 games into the 2021 season, they had just two wins and a grand total of 15 points. That left them a staggering nine points below the playoff line and just two points from the bottom.
From that point, Atlanta would go on to win 11 of their 17 remaining games, score 23 goals and finish the season in 5th place with 51 points.
But this season isn't last season and Atlanta might find it tougher to pull off such a dramatic comeback this season. Last season, Atlanta faced playoff teams five times in their last 17 games and only managed to beat Orlando City SC. This season, Atlanta will have to play 12 of their remaining 17 games against teams that are currently above the playoff line.
The good news? Atlanta plays nine of those games at home, where they have a record of 4-3-1 this season. More good news is that a few players are closer to coming off the injury list with Andrew Gutman approximately 3-4 weeks from returning from a quad injury and Ronald Hernandez expected to be ready by early September.
Atlanta still has time to get themselves above the playoff line and they certainly have the tools to do so.