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Best MLS Teams of the First 25 Years: #19 2019 Atlanta United
Last year's Atlanta United squad completed the most unique "double" in MLS history, winning the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Campeones Cup. They were also a conference finalist and had the third best record in the league for the season. While they came up short in defending their MLS Cup crown, the 5 Stripes in 2019 had one of the best seasons in MLS history.
Brad Guzan tied for the league lead in clean sheets with fourteen. Early in the season, the team set a record with five straight clean sheet victories. In his first season as a starter, Miles Robinson finished third in the MLS Defender of the Year voting and broke into the U.S. National Team. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez put forward another strong season as a center back.
Up front, the attack was led by Josef Martinez who scored 27 goals. Julian Gressel notched 12 assists to go along with his 6 goals. Pity Martinez added 9 assists and 5 goals. In what became one of the hallmarks of Frank de Boer's first season in Atlanta, the squad showed flexibility when needed, shifting between shapes and lineups when called upon. Injuries and international absences affected the 5 Stripes more than ever before, but the team found ways to keep adding trophies. One of the most impressive wins saw Atlanta go to Orlando in the semifinals of the Open Cup without Josef Martinez and find a way to get another win over the Lions, and another clean sheet, in a 2-0 victory.
The team saw a number of players rise to the occasion when needed, ranging from Darlington Nagbe to Justin Meram to Brandon Vazquez to Michael Parkhurst, to Franco Escobar. Resiliency is the word that will go down next to Atlanta United's name in 2019.