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zlatanera

The Five Stripes - Atlanta United FC

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When deciding upon my first serious MLS save, I knew there was only one team for me - one that won the MLS Cup in only their 2nd year of existence whilst setting records for player goalscoring, attendance, and eventually making the most expensive sale in MLS history. Playing in the largest ground in MLS,  Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

I will be playing from the 2018 season onwards, not 2019 when they have already had success, so the squads will reflect this. I never use first window transfer budgets either. I'll also try to explain (or show my attempt at understanding) MLS' various contract and transfer rules. I've switched my game to U.S. English and salaries to annual, in USD$ too.

Edited by zlatanera

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You'll have to ask Tata Martino why we have 5 left backs, but the squad reflects their real life versatility (playing 352, 3511, 433 variations throughout 2018) so can play how you want. I wouldn't try anything too much towards tiki-taka with an MLS squad though. A positive is that there are quite a few good personalities and no real bad ones. There's quite a bit of young talent in the squad, such as $15m signing Ezequiel Barco, homegrown IF Andrew Carleton and 15 year old Perfectionist LB George Bello. 

Edited by zlatanera

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It is a common misconception that Atlanta United have a defined "playing style", it was partially the desire to try a back three that drew me to this save, so that is what I'll start out with. The 433 is an alternate given we don't have much real depth up top and need some way to get Barco involved. Pass Into Space and POOD are pretty much prerequisites for me at this point, I'm never going to try to win ugly and FM19 (rightly) seems to punish sterile possession more than previous years' efforts. The front four have the Close Down More PI, which should make them even more aggressive in their counter-pressing, and the defensive line is adjusted to compress the space that opponents will have to play in. 

Edited by zlatanera

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This American English thing is going to take some getting used to...Carlos Bocanegra is our "General Manager", I'm "Head Coach" and Mercedes-Benz Stadium has a 120yds x 75yds "field". 

Edited by zlatanera

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I'm trying something a little different with my coaching staff. Normally I try to have a domestic & British (because of my nationality) bias but seek out the best I can find. This time I've decided to grow a coaching staff. For example, this is my HoYD:

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He hasn't got the best preferred formation (I'm not using a 442 this save), but he's got a great personality and those coaching stats are with zero qualifications. Once I get him up to Pro Licence he could be spectacular.

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This is my coaching staff. That we're rated best for everything is a scathing indictment of MLS coaching, but only two people are without room for improvement - myself and Aron Hyde. We could be looking at a world class coaching staff in a few years.

Edited by zlatanera

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March 2018

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On the face of it 3 wins from 4 is good, but even from my limited knowledge of MLS Minnesota are the sort of team a side hoping to put together a title challenge should easily dispatch. We were away from home though. 

So far I don't seem to be getting much from Miguel Almirón as a Mezzala, but Josef Martinez has 4 goals already (and would have had more had his finishing not been woeful against Minnesota). 

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April 2018

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Only a 91st minute David Villa equaliser kept us from a perfect month this time, and with 14 goals in 4 games we're definitely living up to the Attacking Soccer philosophy I requested! 

I also requested Develop Players Using Club's Youth System and we're doing well on that front, with 3 academy graduates and a 2017 super draft pick featuring against rock-bottom Montreal. 

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Miles Robinson is the aforementioned super draft pick, on a Generation Adidas contract. He's so far picked up 1 start and 4 substitute appearances. 

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George Bello came from the club's academy and is the current youngest player for the club (nowhere near Freddy Adu's 14 years old league record though). He has two starts.

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I view José Hernandez as a waste of an international slot given and will be open to offers, but in order to get rid I need to play him. He started against Montreal and was fine.

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Chris Goslin actually counts as a HomeGrown Player (no idea what this means in MLS parlance and why the likes of Bello and Carleton don't), he got his debut and first start against Montreal. 

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Andrew Carleton is another academy product, he doesn't really fit well into any role in my team yet but I've given him 1(2) appearances so far.

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American-Mexican dual nationality Brandon Vázquez has made 1(1) appearances but will struggle to get in front of Josef Martinez or Hector Villalba in the ST position. When given a start against Montreal though, he responded with a MOTM performances: 1 goal and 2 assists!

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May 2018

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Only the one clean sheet, but the most disappointing result was not the loss to the wizards, but the 2-2 at home to NYRB. Just some atrocious defending to leave Bradley Wright-Phillips unmarked 6 yards out for their 1st, and then a penalty when their guy was running away from goal for the 2nd. 

Roughly 1/3 of the season down, we're 5 points ahead of NYRB in our conference but they have two games in hand. In the overall standings, despite hammering them 6-1 we are 6 points behind Vancouver with 1 game in hand. Josef Martinez leads the league in goals with 10 in 12, Almirón is coming good and Barco has missed 5 games in a row so we'll only be stronger offensively. Losing our only real DM in Eric Remedi for almost 2 months may kill us though. 

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June 2018

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A busy month, we played a weakened team in both rounds of the cup so I'm not too bothered about losing out there, but a late goal again from NYCFC followed by failing to score for only the third time this season at Columbus may hurt us in the long run. We bounced back with two more home games though, revenge on Orlando was particularly sweet with Josef Martinez nabbing a hat-trick following a brace against Portland to take him to 16 goals in 17 appearances, a mere 3 less than what he scored in the entirety of the 2017 season.

I changed the tactic from the one I posted before a friendly had been played:

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It's yet another iteration of the style I used to recreate 16/17 Monaco, but whereas that used team pressing I'm still just using PIs on my four most advanced players. It's working very well - we've created 33 CCCs and conceded just 6 against in 18 league matches, although conversion may be part of why we're not running away with it - we've converted 28 of 33, opponents 5 of 7. We've scored 47 goals, 9 more than Vancouver who are second on that list, although with some teams like us having played 18 games and others like NYRB and Toronto only 15 that stat may look better than it is. We've concede 17 though, showing a weakness from screamers and headers off corners (not the tallest team around).

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