By Tyler Trent
Giorgos Giakoumakis makes his debut against Toronto FC (photo courtesy of Atlanta United)
Results From Last Season
Atlanta United had an overall disappointing season last year finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference. This was their worst season (barring the irregular 2020 COVID-19 season) in their 6 year history. However, that only put them two points off where Charlotte FC finished last season. Additionally, Atlanta United was forced to deal with multiple injuries throughout the season including Miles Robinson, Brad Guzan, Ozzie Alonso, Andrew Gutman, and Brooks Lennon missing significant time.
Last season, Charlotte played both their matches in the first two months of the season. In the first matchup, Atlanta scored a dramatic 96th minute winner. In the second, Charlotte was able to score early on a Jordy Alcívar olimpico to win 1-0.
Atlanta United had a lot of roster turnover in the offseason with defenders George Campbell and Alan Franco leaving for significant fees. Additionally, former MVP Josef Martínez left on a free transfer to Inter Miami.
Atlanta United also added several pieces in the offseason. Former Columbus Crew winger Derrick Etienne Jr. arrived on a free transfer to strengthen the Atlanta attack. Tyler Wolff returned from a loan at Belgian side SK Beveren. Peruvian international Luis Abram was signed from the Spanish club Granada at center-back.
The biggest signing arrived late in the preseason with Greek international Giorgos Giakoumakis arriving from Celtic as Atlanta’s new designated player forward. Giakoumakis arrived recently to Atlanta and was only able to make a sub appearance for 31 minutes in their match against Toronto FC. However, the Greek striker scored 13 goals for Celtic in Scotland averaging only 50 minutes per game in his 21 matches last year. This season before leaving Celtic, he scored 6 goals despite averaging 36 minutes in his 19 games played.
Players to watch
Thiago Almada – The 2022 World Cup winner has been electric to start the 2023 MLS Season. Almada scored two fantastic goals to lead Atlanta to a victor over San Jose. While his second game against Toronto was a little quieter, he did provide the assist that earned Atlanta United a draw.
Andrew Gutman – Gutman scored 4 goals last season from left-back and looked lively against Charlotte FC last season, but Kristijan Kahlina came up with a massive save to keep him from adding another to that tally. Gutman’s counterpart, Brooks Lennon, at right-back has also had a strong start to the season and will push up and attack any chance he gets.
Franco Ibarra – Atlanta’s other Argentinian in the midfield is also a handful. Ibarra has a very strong passing game and he will cover a lot of ground to help put out fires that arise. Charlotte FC will have to win the midfield battle to limit Ibarra and Almada’s impact this weekend.
Outlook For 2023
Atlanta United’s preseason predictions were all over the place. Injuries plagued the team last year but with Almada returning in hot form and the additions of Etienne Jr. and Giakoumakis, their attack could be very potent. If Atlanta is able to stay out of injury issues and see an increased productivity in midfield, they should improve on their standing from last season.
In their last match against Toronto FC, Atlanta United lined up with the personnel below.
Graphic courtesy of Atlanta United
The bulk of this lineup will likely go unchanged. However, it remains to be seen if their new DP striker, Giakoumakis, makes his first start of the season against Charlotte FC.
Be sure to checkout MLS Corner on the TopBin90 YouTube channel tomorrow night at 8pm EST. We will have special guest former USA international Michael Parkhust. The MLS veteran defender who also spent time in Denmark and Germany, before ultimately finishing his career with Atlanta United, will help us talk through the first matchup of the season against Atlanta United.