Even with the success this year, there are some things in the Monkey House that need to be addressed:
- First priority should be securing this roster for next season. Most everyone should be back according the word on the street, but you never really know in this league.
- Some greater diversity in style of play and tactical variance is greatly needed. The team rarely changed out of its 4-4-2 formation, and even more rarely changed from its direct style of play. That works against the lesser teams in this league, but teams like Seattle eat that up. With the talent available and the time to train them, it is surprising that we didn't see more variety.
- During the final, I kept waiting to see the team go to 3 in the back, or 3 forwards, or 5 in the midfield, something to chase the game and try to get back into it. It was obvious at halftime that we weren't creating enough chances and a change was needed.
- Putting all your hopes and dreams on a hot goalkeeper can only get you so far. McIntosh carried this team in the second half of this season a long way, but he can't do everything.
- A conservative style is fine in this situation, but there were not enough true counterattacks. There were 2 or 3 times in the first half where an attack was built up and the 'Backs looked dangerous. However, there were many more times when the ball was just launched high and long and Millwood and Ukah had to chase. Atlanta should be deadly on counters with its speed, but it never really happened this year.
- The shape was out of whack all night. I don't know what happened in Seattle, but it looked like ten guys running around for a good portion of the game. That wasn't normal for the team, and killed them against a well-organized team like Seattle.
- I'll never understand the late season benching of Antoniuk, especially when you're just going to keep launching long balls. He was obviously the point person for the attack up front, leading the league in assists, and he was missed. Ukah and Millwood are not the same type of player. Ukah was very opportunistic, scoring on half-chances, but the team could've been more effective.
- All season, our subsitutions never changed the team's shape. They were always position for position. Again, that can only get you so far. Championship teams can adjust to what their opponents give them. The sub patterns were very predictable as the season went on, except for bringing on a defender in the last five minutes of a game when you're down 3-0.
- There's so much potential for more with the talent on this team. The success this year is great, but these are issues that have to be addressed in order to sustain it.
All that said, this is the best season for an Atlanta pro soccer team since 1995. Congratulations to everyone involved for an amazing accomplishment, and best of luck in continuing this upward trend.