Twellman: "Shocked if Frank isn't given all of 2019"

John and Hugh
March 13, 2019 - 9:11 am

© Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports

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ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman is considered entertaining, colorful and critical in his analysis of the sport but he cares deeply about his craft. He joined the Morning Show on Wednesday to talk about Atlanta United's early-season issues.

Twellman, who was critical of Atlanta's performance in thier MLS home opener against FC Cincinnati, understands the frustrations Five Stripes fans have with new coach Frank de Boer. He believes some of this falls on the players too.

"For the American sports fan, and even the American soccer football fan, there’s always been this notion that the Dutch have created the beautiful game. And there is a stubbornness. Listen, Tata Martino was one of the more stubborn coaches I’ve ever met. There’s also an understanding that you need to have your system fit the players, not the players fit into the system. That’s kind what Tata left and where Frank’s taken over."

"When you’ve taken over a team that has won, there is a fine line in making tweaks and a fine line in blowing it up. And I don’t think the players are being put in the right formation, the right system to succeed. But in Frank’s case, they’ve played four games in 11 days, and that’s part of the quirkiness of MLS. But the reality is, they’ve been boring and that’s the problem I’ve had in watching Atlanta United.”

With people looking at de Boer’s background at a coach, is that hurting him?

“Everything can’t be black and white on that. With the turnover of coaches, each situation is unique and different. You’re trying to compare four different teams in four different countries. However, I do think there’s something to that. It does raise the question: Are you a little insecure and stubborn (in sticking with your formation) or should you look at it and change? Injuries have played a part in this but in watching their first few games, it’s been disappointing to say the least. They were only down 1-0 on the road in the 75th minute. I don’t care who the coach is. As players, that’s an experienced group of players, they should have, at the minimum, left Mexico only losing 1-0 instead of 3-0. And now, their backs are against the wall.”

What about Miggy Almiron's departure, how has that affected Atlanta United?

“Miggy is a special talent. His pace on the counter within that system under Tata Martino worked. It’s not that they’re missing Miggy, it’s that the system suited him as well. Pity Martinez is the reigning South American player of the year. That has never happened in MLS history. He is an excellent player, but he is a different. He’s a little more balanced. It just hasn’t suited Pity (so far). Players come over from all world; some struggle, some take off. I think Pity’s the right player. I just think Frank need to find a way to put him in the right spot.”

Finally, how long will management stick with de Boer if things don’t improve?

"It's called pressure. It's called accountability. And the way the rest of the world is in our sport, Frank de Boer's rear end is on the hot seat, absolutely. But MLS is a little different so you have to have some time to grow. I definitely think, at the minimum, he gets six months. And from everything I heard, he at least signed a three year deal so now you raise the question from what the buy-out is and what not. I'd be shocked if Frank isn't given all of 2019."