Atlanta United has outplayed their opposition for three straight weeks now. No one predicted to see such good form from the team until Josef Martinez returned, but United has managed to earn seven points in their last three matches. So where did the turn around come from?
After a few bad results, Tata went to the drawing board to make some changes.
Miguel Almiron (Left midfielder -> Attacking midfielder)
We can’t say enough about this guy. Miggy continues to light up the MLS, scoring five goals in the past two matches. Tata moving #10 to attacking midfielder has maximized the danger of the attack, and Almiron is the engine behind it. In the first 10 matches, Miguel was only able to score two goals. Ever since he switched to his new role, he has found the net 5 times. His brace against NYCFC made him the team’s leading scorer with seven goals.
Julian Gressel (Attacking midfielder -> Right midfielder)
You’ve got to love watching Julian Gressel playing out wide. When Almiron replaced Gressel as the attacking mid, Julian replaced Miguel on the wing. Gressel wasn’t playing too well in the middle, scoring zero goals in the first nine matches, but seems like a whole different player since the switch. In his first match on the wing against Portland, Julian Gressel was able to net his first ever MLS goal. Then, a week later against the Dynamo, Gressel scored again. In the team’s most recent match, Julian Gressel made two perfect crosses and notched two assists to keep his good run of form going. “My role is just different. It gives me a chance to get in more dangerous spots..” said Gressel following the match against NYCFC.
Hector Villalba (Right midfielder -> Striker)
When Tata made the adjustment in the lineup, some fans were surprised to see Villalba replace Kenwyne Jones as the starting striker. Although he already had four goals prior to the switch, his speed at striker makes the offense more dangerous than it did with Kenwyne. Tito was able to net a goal against NYCFC that is up for goal of the week.
Huge props to Tata Martino for having the the players try new roles, and even bigger props to the players for excelling in them. Because of the adjustment, The Five Stripes are by far one of the most dangerous teams in the MLS.
Vote Tito Villalba’s goal for GOTW here: