A first start, a first goal, and a first assist all in a week’s time for Atlanta United’s Kevin Kratz.
One of Tata Martino’s top choices off the bench this year, number eight has been called upon many times to reinforce the Atlanta midfield unit, making a total of nine appearances in all club competitions this season. After spending the majority of his career in Germany, the 30-year-old midfielder joined Atlanta United in December of last year, bringing a calm composed and experienced talent to the league newcomers. Now, with the team hitting the thick of the MLS season, Atlanta’s coaching staff has turned to Kratz more and more, with the German earning his first start for the club last week in Chicago.
With Miguel Almirón just returning from international duty, Kratz received the nod in place of Atlanta’s number 10, stepping into the playmaking midfield role. Despite the 2-0 defeat, Kratz gained confidence playing against German icon Bastian Schweinsteiger and was impressed with his team’s performance, aside from their execution in the final third.
After the match, Kratz commented, “It's not that we don't have any chances to score, we create chances, we just have to be more consistent putting the ball in the net."
The veteran midfielder put his own counsel into action just four days later as he notched his first-ever goal for the club in Atlanta United’s U.S. Open Cup debut against the Charleston Battery.
Defender Zach Loyd sent a curling service into the far post which skimmed off a few heads before finding Kratz. The German midfielder settled it with his thigh and fired it low into the near post with too much steam for Charleston’s goalkeeper. His goal marked the first of three on the night that powered Atlanta to their first-ever cup win.
Following his two starts, Kratz subbed on for the final 18 minutes of their third match in eight days, playing a vital role in the production of Atlanta’s third and final goal in their victory over Columbus on Saturday. In the midst of Tata Martino’s high press, the German stripped the Crew’s Mohammed Abu at the corner of the 18-yard-box and immediately laid the ball into the path of forward Josef Martinez who blasted the ball up and into the roof of the net for the dagger on the night.
A memorable week for Atlanta’s Kevin Kratz was wholly topped off as he celebrated a third-straight MLS home victory with his daughter for a picture-perfect Father’s Day weekend.
Kratz has earned some quality minutes in the past week and proven that he can be a valuable asset for Tata Martino’s side in the midfield. With a plethora of competition ahead including multiple-match weeks, Atlanta’s depth is sure to be tested. And players like Kratz, who may not have been in the regular lineup to start the year, will be entrusted to step up for the expansion side.
Atlanta United are at it again with two more matches this week. First heading to the nation’s capital to face D.C. United before returning to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday night in front of a friendly seventh-straight sellout crowd in the ATL.