It’s officially summertime, and Atlanta was hot last month – literally and figuratively. Atlanta United’s first team rode a seven-match unbeaten streak, the second team had two huge home wins, and both the Academy and Unified teams had impressive victories in June. Here are some of the top moments from the month.
“Hey now, You’re an All Star”
Major League Soccer announced both Giorgos Giakoumakis and Thiago Almada will make their first All-Star appearances in the 2023 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target next month at Audi Field. Giakoumakis, who was selected by All-Star head coach Wayne Rooney, has become a force for Atlanta in just his first season in the league, and Almada will be making his All-Star debut one year after being named the 2022 MLS Newcomer of the Year in his rookie season.
Two for the History Books
Two huge milestones for Atlanta were reached last month. Giakoumakis became the fastest player in club history to reach 10 goals after scoring in the 13th minute of the 3-1 win over D.C. United. His 10th goal came in his 766th minute of play, which was 55 minutes faster than the previous record-holder, Josef Martinez. The following week, Tyler Wolff scored the club’s 350th regular season goal in the match against New York City FC.
The Big, Bald Wall is Back
After returning from an MCL injury weeks ahead of schedule, goalkeeper Brad Guzan proved why he has that nickname in the team’s match against Los Angeles FC. The 38-year-old made eight saves to record his 50th clean sheet for the club in his 150th MLS regular season start. His performance helped Atlanta pick up a point on the road and become only the second team this season to earn a point at BMO Stadium.
Alonso Returns for Atlanta
After 14 long months, Ozzie Alonso returned to the pitch for Atlanta in the match against D.C. United, entering in the 84th minute. The midfielder joined the club in December 2021 and played only four matches with the 5-Stripes before suffering an ACL injury in April 2022. His comeback was emotional but well-received, as the supporters in Mercedes-Benz Stadium erupted when he stepped onto the field.
For Club and Country
The June FIFA international window featured a whole lot of 5-Stripes – six to be exact. Miles Robinson, Luis Abram, Derrick Etienne Jr., Jay Fortune, Almada and Giakoumakis were called up to their home countries for international play. Fortune, Etienne Jr. and Robinson, who won the Concacaf Nations League title with the United States men’s national team, also set out for the Gold Cup, which runs June 24- July 16.
The Proving Ground Product
June was Nick Firmino’s month. The Atlanta United 2 midfielder started out as MLS NEXT Pro Player of the Matchday for Matchday 11 after scoring a brace and adding an assist in the team’s 5-0 victory over Inter Miami CF II. He was called up to the first team, made his MLS debut after entering the NYCFC match in the 87th minute, then scored the equalizing goal eight minutes later. Then he became NEXT Pro’s leading goal scorer after scoring twice in ATL UTD 2’s 4-2 comeback win against NYCFC II.
Unified Team bulldozes New York on the road
Atlanta United Special Olympics Unified Team traveled to face the New York Red Bulls Unified team for its second match of the season. Atlanta won 3-1 thanks to a first-half brace from Anthony Hernandez and the finisher by Liam Stuart. There was a great crowd at Red Bull Arena, including family who made the trip all the way from Atlanta.
The Future is Bright
Atlanta United’s U-16 Academy team was crowned the MLS NEXT Cup champions, earning the first title for the club in the league since it began in 2020. Rocket Ritarita was named the Best Player of the tournament, and Dillon Griner took home the Best Goalkeeper award, conceding just three goals all tournament. The team qualified for the tournament after a stellar season where they won the Southeast Division with a regular season record of 22-1-1 (69 points).