It’s hard to believe we are now two-thirds of the way into the 2018 MLS regular season, but we really have reached August and it’s crunch time for every MLS side still fighting for their spot in the postseason. For Atlanta United, trekking through just their second season, they’ve put themselves in prime position to secure their playoff hopes even earlier than their 2017 campaign –– and much more. Here’s where the Five Stripes stand with only 10 matches remaining in the regular season:
#1 in the Eastern Conference
With a record of 14W-4L-6D, Atlanta United sit at the top of the Eastern Conference with a total of 48 points. They are four points ahead of both New York clubs, and despite having played more games, the Five Stripes hold the cards and currently control their Eastern Conference destiny. New York City is just one game but four points behind, and while the Red Bulls still have two games in hand, they must get through Atlanta in a September match in New Jersey to take the top spot in the East.
#1 in the Supporters’ Shield Standings
In addition to sitting atop the East, Atlanta United also lead the race for the Supporters’ Shield, awarded to the MLS Regular Season Champion. Their league-leading point tally aside, perhaps most impressive is their 2018 road record in a league where it’s historically challenging to have a winning record away from home. Their 7W-2L-2D record away from point have garnered a total of 23 points, six more than the next best team on the road. And while ATL UTD look like one of the favorites to capture the Shield, Western Conference opponents FC Dallas and Portland could mathematically catch up on points
Leading the Golden Boot and MVP Race
If you’ve followed the headlines in Major League Soccer this summer, you already know about Atlanta’s "Venezuelan Viper" up front, Josef Martinez. The striker came up just short of the Golden Boot last year despite missing half the year, and in 2018, he’s making no mistake proving he’s the best goalscorer in MLS. Martinez has notched 26 goals in 24 matches, currently leading this year’s race by eleven goals and now just one off from tying the all-time single-season scoring record with 10 matches still to play. Last month he claimed the title as the MLS hat trick king with a record-breaking six in his career already, and he’s the first MLS player ever to reach 45 goals in their first two seasons. With his historic scoring pace helping his team to the top of the table, the Venezuelan is surely leading this year’s race for league MVP.
First to 50 Goals
Just as electric as they’ve been since their inaugural match and powered by Martinez’s league-leading 26 goals, Atlanta United is the first team to hit the back of the net 50 times this season. In addition to the Golden Boot leader up front, eight other players have scored for ATL UTD, including Miguel Almiron with 8, followed by Ezequiel Barco (4) and Tito Villalba (3). The team is scoring over 2 goals per game this season and if they maintain their pace, will surpass the 70-goal mark they reached last year which ranked 5th all-time.
As hard as they’ve worked and as pretty as they may be sitting for some hardware, their job is far from finished with the most crucial part of the season approaching. Next up they will be looking for redemption on August 19th as they host the Columbus Crew at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time since last year's heartbreaking penalty-kick playoff loss. In September they take a week a week-long Western Conference road trip with visits to San Jose and Colorado, and close out the month with a trip up North to face the team nipping at their heels, the New York Red Bulls. And if it wasn’t already tough, their Decision Day will be spent in Toronto, looking to take down the reigning MLS Cup Champions.
You don’t want to miss this team as they look to clinch their playoff spot and chase their first-ever Supporters’ Shield. Witness the record-breaking season by securing your tickets to the remaining home matches here.