Peter Vermes: Atlanta United juggling changes, but still have ample potential

Peter Vermes has been an admirer of what Sporting Kansas City's weekend opponent, Atlanta United, have done in their first two seasons in MLS.

It’s also safe to say that Atlanta United haven’t quite lived up to billing in their MLS Cup defense. Heading into Sunday’s matchup with Sporting at 8 p.m. CT, Atlanta United sit 10th in the Eastern Conference with eight points from seven matches.

Despite a 1-0 victory over the winless Colorado Rapids last weekend, supporters of the Five Stripes are still unsettled over their performances so far in 2019. An angry reaction to a substitution from big-time offseason acquisition Pity Martinez didn’t seem to quell their frustrations despite the result.

As an outside observer of what’s going on in Atlanta, Vermes still preached patience for Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer.

“I think it’s more of an observer’s opinion, but a lot of times when a new coach comes in, he brings different ideas.” Vermes told “And now, you have to take time to get it. When they started their team two years back, it wasn’t like everything went perfect for them right away either. They learned some things, and their coach's ideas had to get in there, and then they got the ideas in there.”

While it hasn’t been peachy for them to start, Vermes still sees plenty of good things from Atlanta so far in 2019.

“I think you see really good stuff in some of the things that they’re doing and you can’t deny that they still have the same talent,” Vermes said. “They’re missing one specific guy, but they added a very good guy [in Pity Martinez] that we even looked at ourselves, and he’s a very good player.”

Outside of De Boer taking over the reins, the biggest difference for Atlanta United is not having Miguel Almiron wreaking havoc on opposing teams anymore, after his transfer to Newcastle United in January. While Vermes acknowledged his absence was a big miss for Atlanta, he added that “…no player ever stays with their team for 100 years, right? It always changes.”

A new manager, a big playmaker missing, and injuries strongly impacting Sporting at the moment, Vermes thinks those types of variables are just part of the business.

“You’re always juggling so many different variables to try to find success,” Vermes said. “And when you do, it’s an incredibly rewarding moment because you know all the things you had to do to get to that point. At the same time, there is a lot of teams that fall short of that. And when they do, there is maybe one or two things along the way that cause you not to [have success], and that’s the tough thing about the profession. You always have a lot of variables that are against you, not for you. That’s where the difficulty is.”