College Park Is The Right Answer For The Atlanta Dream

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Photo Courtesy Of Atlanta Dream

On Friday October 18th the Atlanta Dream announced that they would be moving to College Park and playing their home games at the new Gateway Center Arena. The Dream who had a forgettable 2019 season still managed to increase their attendance by about 2% over the 2018 season but still finished second to last in total attendance with 72,596. In the bigger State Farm Arena that holds 19,000 it often looked empty and never seemed to have that big game feel to it. The Gateway Center Arena seats 3500 and can be expanded to seat 5000 which means given the recent attendance figures the arena would essentially be a 17 game sellout giving it a more intimate game experience and the sound projection in a smaller venue will give it more of that big game feel to it.

The Dream completed it’s re-branding by also introducing a new logo scheme. The rising phoenix symbolizes the the city’s rise from the ashes of the Civil War to become a world city. The shooting star is left to represent the teams roots. The basketball represents the game itself and how the team pours its heart into each and every game. I think the logo is a great upgrade to what seemed like a dull color scheme before and I am excited to see it displayed both on the uniforms and around the arena next year.

All this combined with having the 4th pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft could mean for a potentially short turnaround back to prominence in the Eastern Conference for the Dream and fans should be excited for the future of this team and brand going forward.

Bob Lancaster

@bowlinbob

MLS Playoff Recap: Playoff Prime Franco Escobar’s goal puts Atlanta through to the next round in a 1-0 victory over New England.

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si.com

The photo above pretty much sums up every single Atlanta United’s fan reaction when Franco Escobar came up clutch again in the playoffs for his team as his lonely goal gave them the victory in a close and tense first round playoff match against the New England Revolution. Atlanta United came into Saturday’s playoff match undefeated against the Revolution defeating the side 4 times in 6 matched played between the two sides along with two draws, now make that 5 wins in 7 matches played and a ticket to the next round of the MLS Cup Playoffs against the Philadelphia Union on Thursday, November 24th on ESPN2 at 8:00 PM from Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

It was for sure not an easy and smooth victory though for the 5-Stripes as the match stayed scoreless for about 70 minutes until Escobar found the opener and winning goal with a nice finish past the GK into the roof of the net with a helpful assist by teammate Ezequiel Barco.

Brad Guzan played a big factor as well with six important saves including a few which were very close to finding there way past him, but it never happened and he received Man of the Match for his league leading 15th clean sheet of the season.

Another key factor to United’s win was the captain himself, Michael Parkhurst who was replacing the injured Miles Robinson who was out with an injury, Robinson’s status for the next match is questionable for now, but we hope to have him back as Parkhurst suffered a dislocated shoulder which will put him out for about 2 weeks.

It was unfortunate to see him go down as Parkhurst was having a pretty good game defensive wise with accurate sliding tackles and clearances. Substitutions of Florentin Pogba and Tito Villalba were also a big help with Justin Meram and Emerson Hyndman being replaced as it brought a new boost of energy and pace down the left side for the remainder of the game.

Playoff Franco once again showed how capable of a player he is in big moments as we all saw in last years playoff run to winning the Cup. In a knockout match at the Benz, United came up victorious and now look on to prepare and devise a new strategy to take on the Philadelphia Union at home Thursday, October 24th. Look for a preview article of that playoff match in the coming days. VAMOS UNITED!!!

Stay with ATLSportsHQ all season long for the best ATLUTD coverage and all other things Atlanta Sports, for the fans, by the fans.

Edin Pelja |@Julio_Goat Twitter | @ATLSportsHQ Twitter/IG

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MLS Playoff Preview: Atlanta United vs. New England Revolution

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atlutd.com

The MLS Playoffs have arrived! That means today at 1 PM inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium it will be rocking as the playoff intensity atmosphere of the 17’s will be in full force as second seed in the Eastern Conference and defending MLS Cup Champs Atlanta United get set to take on the visiting seventh seed New England Revolution.

These two teams met each other about two weeks ago in the final match of the MLS regular season in which Atlanta United took a 3-1 victory at home and after the recent international break the two squads set to face off each other again.

With the United side recharged and prepared for Saturday’s match after days of non-stop training the past week this team should be ready to go head on and open the doors quickly with frequent counter attacks and immediately putting pressure on the Revolution’s defense. If United can get a head start and find the back of the net early on, then the momentum change will be in their favor as early goals can make set the tempo for the rest of the match which is very important. From there, the plan should remain the same and if we can outscore the Revolution by a 2 or 3-0 lead at the half, then Atlanta should be set for a much more comfortable second half although we have see in the past these leads can turnaround and come back to bite you in the last minute so the teams focus and awareness needs to be alert at all times.

Unfortunately, Atlanta’s best center back this year Miles Robinson will be unavailable for the playoff match as he is out with an injury he suffered while away with the U.S. Men’s National Team. With that hampering some of De Boer’s plans defensively, we will likely see Michael Parkhurst get put in the Starting XI as the captain announced this will be his final season of playing professional soccer. Florentin Pogba is also an option, but he likely will not start or even play as he was away with his National Team of Guinea and missed most of the clubs training in the past week or so. Expect Atlanta United to go for a 3-4-2-1 or 3-5-2 formation as those are the two they have used frequently during the course of the regular season.

With the match just hours away from kick-off we expect another great performance at the Benz by our beloved 5-Stripes and a fantastic showing of support from the 17’s in the stands in what should be an exciting and electrifying single elimination playoff match, lets go get a victory boys!!! VAMOS UNITED!!!

Stay with ATLSportsHQ all season long for the best ATLUTD coverage and all other things Atlanta Sports, for the fans, by the fans.

Edin Pelja |@Julio_Goat Twitter | @ATLSportsHQ Twitter/IG

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Hawks Look Sharp In Preseason Matchup VS The Knicks

The Hawks struggled early in the preseason, dropping their first three games. That’s not something to look too much into as it is only preseason, where many players are fighting just for a spot on the 15 man roster. Many of our key players played much more in last nights game than they have been, as we defeated the Knicks 100-96.

Atlanta looked strong from the very start. Our offense was moving, and the defense looked really good, contesting shots, forcing bad possession, and hustling after every loose ball. We continued this trend throughout the entirety of the game. We held them to below 100 points which we usually struggle to accomplish. We also controlled the game as we beat them in 3 out of the 4 quarters. The biggest takeaway from the game though, was the amount of takeaways New York had on us. Atlanta’s main focus has been to limit turnovers. We had 25 turnovers against Miami on Monday. Last night, we only had 11 turnovers. That is a very good sight to see. More possessions equals more opportunities to score. Trae Young as an individual has struggled with turnovers, and he didn’t have a single one last night. Another note to make is that Huerter, Crabbe, and Parsons were all out of last nights game.

We even had a little taste of Vinsanity in the second quarter as he hit 4 threes in a row! Looks like it’s a new season, but the same old Vince. Trae caused problems for the New York defense all night as he finished with 23 points and 9 assists. Collins put up a nice double-double with 12 points and 14 boards. Our rookies also looked solid last night. Reddish had 9 points on 4 of 9 shooting. Hunter had 15 points on 5 of 8 shooting. Hunter knocked down 2 threes and 2 clutch free throws at the end to really seal the game. The Hawks look to continue this type of play tonight against Chicago.

Player Expectations: Kevin Huerter

Kevin Huerter had a very impressive rookie year last season. He averaged 9.7 points per game but showcased his great skill set. He proved to be a knock down shooter, shooting 38.5% from deep, which led the entire rookie class last year. Huerter is also athletic enough to slash to the rim and finish through traffic. With his size and athleticism, Kevin makes for a pretty solid defender as well.

I expect Huerter to start the majority of the games for the Hawks, as long as he is providing valuable minutes. With Trae still at the head of this offense, Huerter will still have many catch and shoot opportunities. If the defense closes out on him, he is skilled enough to dribble around them and create a play himself either scoring or finding another open teammate.

Kevin will see more minutes this year, so he will definitely improve upon his numbers from last year. He will average around 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. His three point percentage will be in the upper 30s while his total field goal percentage will be in the lower to mid 40s.

Kevin Huerter will play a very important role for this team as we look to fight for the 8th seed in the East. I don’t know if he will win it, but Kevin will be in the talks for most improved player after the season ends.

Player Expectations: John Collins

The Atlanta Hawks’ high flyer is coming off of a very strong sophomore year. He barely missed averaging 20 and 10. He put up 19.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. These numbers are very impressive for a player in only his second year in the league. Collins also built a strong relationship with our point guard, Trae Young, which can hopefully lead to an unstoppable dynamic duo for the future.

Also last year, Collins worked on his outside game to compliment his dominant inside game. I expect him to have built on that aspect quite a bit this offseason. If Collins can become a reliable three point threat, he will become even more dangerous. He and Trae already have an elite pick and roll game. With the addition of a three point shot to his arsenal, they could build a respectable pick and pop game. Defenders won’t know how to guard it. If they drop back and play for the roll, Collins can drift out to behind the arc and wait for the pass. If the defender plays up for the three, Collins can roll to the basket and catch the easy lob. This will lead to Trae and John becoming one of the leagues best one-two punches.

Statistics wise, Collins will improve upon his numbers from last year. I see him averaging about 22 or 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists per game. He will shoot around 60% from the field and 38% from three.

With numbers like that, Collins will be in consideration for the All-NBA Third Team. He will also be selected to his very first All-Star game. John Collins will eventually be known as one of the leagues more dominant power forwards.

Red Velvet

kevin-huerterThe Atlanta Hawks have done a remarkable job in the past three drafts in regards to the first round selections.  These selections are going to be considered as Travis’s guys. The recurring theme that you hope will be extended into this season as well is that each pick has performed beyond expectations.
Most fans didn’t even know who John Collins was coming out of Wake Forest at number 19. Although everyone knew of Trae by the end of the 2017-2018 college season, there were a number of pundits and fans who had low expectations for the number 5 pick.

Even this past draft class offers a somewhat polarizing name brand selection (Reddish) and a slightly under the radar pick (Hunter) with the potential to blow doors off the expectations.

But here’s what may still end up being the biggest surprise is how much Kevin Huerter is  getting better. To be fair, there were some Klay Thompson comparisons out there, but those takes were nearly as lazy as the white player to white player comp. When you get a chance just look up ‘Kevin Huerter draft’ and you’re going to hear a couple 6 foot 7 white guys come up like Mike Miller and Joe Ingles.

Is Huerter a shooter? Most definitely, but if you actually have seen him play you most assuredly said either to yourself or even outloud “This dude can HOOP hoop!”

Although 9.7 points 2.9 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game doesn’t jump off the page Kevin actually jumps off the floor. He’s more athletic than he’s given credit for. Although his rookie campaign yields a 0.9 per game average for both blocks and steals Kevin actually is a more than capable defender.

Two games into the preseason and his absence is very noticeable. He may be the three of the “Big Three” but he is clearly one of them. There’s no telling how high his trajectory may reach but it is clear that he’s surpassed expectations, and that is another reason for Hawks fans to be optimistic and confident about the franchise’s future.

What kind of leap Kevin makes is yet to be determined but if his rookie season is any indication of what to expect;then Red Mamba,Red Velvet,Red Rifle or whatever contrived scarlett based moniker Hawks Nation settles on for him will be a pleasant surprise for Atlanta and a surprising problem for the rest of the league.

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Mike Gaines | @mgainesii