Five Stripes In Ten Stats – Atlanta United’s Record-Breaking MLS Season

A-Town is rocking. Atlanta United, in merely its sophomore season, gave reason for Waka Flocka to sip Moscato, ‘The Nature Boy’ Ric Flair to howl ‘WHOOOO’, Evander Holyfield to throw his fists vertically rather than horizontally, and the rest of its remarkable, rhapsodic followers to party til’ eight in the mornin' with Ludacris. The Stats Zone spotlights the spellbinding stats behind the success of Tata Martino and his students.

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73,019 watched Atlanta United beat Portland Timbers 2-0 in the MLS Cup – the biggest crowd in the MLS’s 23-season history. The Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which United share with the Atlanta Falcons, now owns the ten biggest all-time attendances in the MLS. The record crowd for a competitive club match in the USA remains the 77,691 that watched Franz Beckenbauer, Pele, Steve Hunt, Giorgio Chinaglia and the New York Cosmos wallop Fort Lauderdale Strikers 8-3 on a torrid evening for Gordon Banks in 1977.

70 goals in back-to-back regular seasons were registered by Atlanta United, who become the second club ever to do so. Raul Diaz Arce, Marco Etcheverry, John Harkes, Roy Lassiter, Jaime Moreno, Tony Sanneh and Roy Wegerle helped D.C. United hit 70 and 74 in 1997 and ’98 respectively.

31 goals scored by Josef Martinez in 2018 sets the new MLS regular-season record. It broke the previous best of 27, registered by Roy Lassiter in 1996 and equalled by Chris Wondolowski in 2012 and Bradley Wright-Phillips two years later.

26 goals or assists in 32 regular-season games were recorded by Miguel Almiron in MLS 2018. The 24-year-old Paraguayan provided exactly 14 assists in back-to-back campaigns. Almiron has already won championships in Paraguay, Argentina and the USA.

23 years since the city of Atlanta has won a major sports trophy. After the Atlanta Braves won baseball’s World Series in 1995, the Beat (WUSA), Braves (MLB), Dream (WNBA), Falcons (NFL), Glory (NBL), Hawks (NBA) and Thrashers (NHL) had all failed to conquer, losing nine championship deciders between them.

16 years and 257 days was the age at which United left-wingback George Bello became the sixth-youngest MLS marksman behind Eddie Gaven, Santino Quaranta, Diego Fagundez, Jesus Ferreira and record-holder Freddy Adu, who was 14 years and 320 days (he’s still only 29!)

5 MLS Cups played by Michael Parkhurst before finally getting his hands on the trophy. Atlanta’s 34-year-old captain represented New England Revolution in three consecutive MLS Cup losses from 2005 to ’07, and skippered Columbus Crew in their defeat to Portland Timbers in the 2015 decider. “I’ve dreamed of what it felt like to be in the locker room with the champagne,” said a bubbly-drenched Parkhurst. “It was worth the wait.”

4 goals conceded without reply by Atlanta United as they lost to Houston Dynamo in Round 1 – the heaviest defeat with which an MLS Cup-conquering club has kicked off their campaign.

3 MVP awards presented to Josef Martinez made him the first player to seize every possible award in one season. The 25-year-old was named the MVP for the MLS All-Star Game, in which he bravely bagged a header against Juventus, the regular season and the MLS Cup. Another four men had claimed MVP honours for the regular season and MLS Cup: Tony Meola (2000), Carlos Ruiz (2002), Guillermo Barros Schelotto (2008) and Robbie Keane (2014).

2 seasons of existence is all it took Atlanta United to win the MLS Cup, making them the third-fastest expansion team to triumph. Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo won it in their maiden campaigns in 1998 and 2006 respectively.