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Three questions with Rob Usry of Five Stripe Final



Photo by Carl Gulbish

The Philadelphia Union are hot.

So are Atlanta United, the Union’s next opponent. Both teams are playoff contenders, have won this season, and are nearing the top of the Eastern Conference table.

With an important matchup for the Union en route, we spoke with our buddy Rob Usry of Five Stripe Final to get the inside scoop on Atlanta.

Philadelphia Soccer Now: Alright, let’s get this one out of the way. Talk to me about Giorgos Giakoumakis. What makes him so special?

Rob Usry: The guy is just a born goal-scorer. He has that killer instinct that all the great strikers have. Even if he’s having the worst game of his life, he can still pop up out of nowhere and put one in the net.

What I’m more impressed with is how passionate he is about playing for Atlanta United. He doesn’t quit running and working his butt off for the team no matter how things are going. That’s a rare trait to find in a star striker with an ego. He has a perfect mix of confidence and cockiness that fits this league.

PSN: Despite having one of MLS’ most exciting players, Atlanta is sitting in sixth in the Eastern Conference. What’s holding the team back?

RU: The biggest flaw in this team is their ability to get results away from home. We all know most MLS teams struggle to play away matches, but this team really brings it to another level. It’s just a completely different side when they aren’t playing in Atlanta. They lose all confidence and understanding of Gonzalo Pineda’s tactics.

However, another thing that has recent popped up is the injury bug. It has arrived with a vengeance, taking the likes of Giakoumakis, Xande Silva, both starting center backs, and both backup strikers. So while the season got off to a pretty good start, it has quickly devolved into treading water until the squad can return to fitness.

PSN: Atlanta has only given up five goals through six MLS games. Even for Philadelphia, those are some pretty impressive numbers. What has that unit looked like thus far?

RU: We’ve been really pleased with the defensive performances so far, considering it was the team’s Achilles heel last season. While Stian Gregersen has been a great direct replacement signing for Miles Robinson, the real standout has been veteran free agent signing Derrick Williams. He has shocked everyone by unexpectedly winning a starting spot and shining. His no nonsense, reliable presence has transformed a leaky ship into a sturdy force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned injuries leave the defense in peril as we enter this matchup. Teenager Noah Cobb has been thrust into the spotlight since Gregersen went down. We haven’t seen what the lineup looks like without Williams but we expect Luis Abram to return from exile. But there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a weakened backline for the foreseeable future.

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (

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