Frank de Boer

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Philadelphia Union teen pegs Atlanta back in 1-1 draw

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18-year-old Philadelphia Union youth product Brenden Aaronson bagged his first MLS goal as they went to Mercedes-Benz Stadium and earned a 1-1 draw with Atlanta United.

Frank De Boer, new boss of the defending champions, has come under fire for the team’s poor start to the season, and Sunday’s result will only serve to feed the critics with new ammunition. Atlanta held upwards of 70% possession through the match, but generated just two total shots on target.

The best chance of the opening half for the home side came in the 37th minute as Pity Martinez burst down the left and fed Josef Martinez who made a run down the middle splitting the center-backs. Martinez stretched to reach it, but it was just too far. His slide took him into Andre Blake and left last year’s MVP in a heap, but he came back on after a lengthy treatment.

Philadelphia had its own chance down the other end moments later as Fabrice-Jean Picault got free down the center, one-on-one with the goalkeeper Brad Guzan who he shook with a touch to the right. He had an open goal to shoot at from a tight angle to the right, but Miles Robinson made it back to clear off the line.

The opener came just two minutes after the halftime break, Aaronson created his own chance out of nothing, not closed down at the top of the box and shooting past a rooted Brad Guzan. Frank de Boer would make a 67th minute substitution to bring on Ezequiel Barco, and that would pay dividends just three minutes later as Atlanta equalized on a blistering Barco header.

Philadelphia thought it would go a man up in the 92nd minute, but the referee gave only a yellow card to Leandro Gonzalez after taking down Corey Burke who was free on goal. The ensuing free-kick sailed just agonizing inches over the bar off the foot of Haris Medunjanin. The shared points moved Atlanta to just two points on the season through the first three matches, five off the Eastern Conference leaders already. Philadelphia, meanwhile, earned its first point of the campaign with the draw.

De Boer believes Atlanta fans should lower expectations

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Under heavy disapproval of a poor start to his tenure in charge of Atlanta United, head coach Frank De Boer has looked to rebuff critics by telling fans they have been “spoiled” by the club’s early success.

The club opened its season with a 3-1 loss to Mexican club Herediano, and while they produced a massive 4-0 win in the second leg to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, but they slumped again in the first leg in a 3-0 defeat to Monterrey.

Their league start has also been a struggle. After losing to D.C. United to start the year, they drew 1-1 on Sunday with FC Cincinnati in a game that saw Atlanta go in front early but concede in the last few minutes, de Boer has heard the noise.

“Of course they [Atlanta fans] were a little spoiled with the results of last season,” De Boer said after the defeat to Cincinnati. “Everybody expected [similar results], and that’s also normal.”

De Boer believes the abrupt start to the season due to the continental competition has put them at a disadvantage, citing last season’s strugglers as an example.

“Everybody also saw what happened with Toronto when they played the [CONCACAF] Champions League last season. Out of nothing we were induced to play every three days a game, and now I think in 17 games we play five games or something like that. That’s a lot.”

Last season, after winning the MLS title the year before, Toronto FC reached the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League, but it appeared to have a taxing effect on their league campaign. They lost four of their first five MLS games and finished the year with the third-fewest points in the league.

When asked about fans booing the club, de Boer said it’s not fair to the players who have given their all to start the year.

“I don’t think it’s fair because I think everybody worked very hard for it and it’s not that they didn’t give 100%,” De Boer said. “They [Cincinnati] had their first chance in the 85th minute, so it’s very hard to concede a goal like that. Defensively we were standing very well in the last three, they did fantastic I think. I think it’s not fair to the team.”

Finally, de Boer said he thinks teams are beginning to adjust to Atlanta’s style, packing in defensively and forcing them to play a patient style of attack.

“It’s always very difficult against a team that plays so good organized with so many people in their own half,” de Boer said. “I played for a long time with Ajax and as a coach, teams expect you to just expect you to create chances and play in their own half. That’s the most difficult to play as a football team; everybody knows when you have space you can create more or in transition, but this when they drop very deep in their own half, we have to be secure with those individual actions sometimes and make some runs to create space and make them stretch, and hopefully you can get in between the lines. We have to accept that and have to understand what kind of moments when you have to play long and when you have to play in between the lines.”

Ultimately, telling fans they should expect less so early into a job is probably an ill-advised strategy. Given de Boer’s tendency to perform poorly early into recent jobs, including struggles in short tenures with Crystal Palace and Inter, it’s probably in his best interest to avoid telling Atlanta fans to accept losing.

De Boer takes over Atlanta United with big shoes to fill

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MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) Frank De Boer was sacked by Inter Milan after less than three months on the job.

He lasted just four Premier League games at Crystal Palace.

Now, after two short-lived coaching stints, de Boer has a chance to revive his career with the wildly popular champions of Major League Soccer.

[READ: Report: Kane could miss at least a month with injury]

The longtime stalwart of the Dutch national team has taken over at Atlanta United, which won the MLS Cup in just its second season while breaking numerous attendance records.

De Boer said it is a shot at redemption, while also stressing that his chances of success are much greater in Atlanta.

“Of course, you have to learn from your mistakes, but also about organizations that aren’t good and organized and structured like Atlanta United,” he said Monday during a news conference at the team’s suburban training facility.

With his two previous employers, de Boer added, “There was no cohesion between all the departments. Everything was separate. Now, we have a feeling, `OK, I don’t have to look around for the dead body in the closet or behind the closet.’ Everything is very clear and structured.”

He represented his country 112 times on the field, most notably delivering a towering 60-yard pass that set up Dennis Bergkamp’s winning goal against Argentina in the closing minutes of a 1998 World Cup quarterfinal. De Boer moved into coaching after his playing career ended, leading Dutch powerhouse Ajax to a record four straight Eredivisie titles.

Taking over at Inter Milan in 2016, de Boer failed to match the success he had in his native country. The Italian club struggled in both Serie A and Europa League competitions, which led to his firing on Nov. 1 with the club mired in 12th place.

His tenure lasted just 85 days.

The following summer, de Boer was hired by Crystal Palace. Despite modest expectations – the team was coming off a 15th-place showing the previous season, finishing just five points above the relegation zone – the coach was quickly fired again after Crystal became the first team in 93 years to lose its first four matches in the top flight without scoring a goal.

Atlanta United is in a much different position, having quickly become MLS’ flagship franchise on and off the field. The team has a clear power structure led by owner Arthur Blank, team president Darren Eales and technical director Carlos Bocanegra – a setup that was appealing to de Boer.

“For me, that is so much easier,” he said. “The 5 1/2 seasons that I was working for Ajax as a head coach … it cost me less energy than the eight months at Inter and Crystal Palace. I was already starting to get gray hairs.”

De Boer certainly has some big shoes to fill.

In two years as United’s coach, Tata Martino instilled an attacking style of play that was a big hit with the fans and hugely successful on the field. The club averaged more than 53,000 per game this season, easily eclipsing its own record, and thrilled the city by capturing the MLS Cup championship in December.

Martino stepped down to take over as Mexico’s national coach.

The expectations remain the same.

“Everybody expects a lot from Atlanta United,” de Boer said. “That’s normal when you’re a champion.”

De Boer’s team is still a work in progress. MVP runner-up Miguel Almiron was expected to transfer to the Premier League during the January window, but no deal has been reached. He reported Monday for the start of Atlanta’s training camp.

River Plate star Pity Martinez announced last month that he had a deal to come to Atlanta, supposedly as Almiron’s replacement in the midfield, but that’s on hold for the moment. United already has three designated players who are exempt from the salary cap: Almiron, record-setting goal scorer and league MVP Josef Martinez, and 19-year-old Ezequiel Barco.

Less than six weeks removed from its MLS Cup triumph, Atlanta United reported for camp to begin preparing for its first appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League. The team opens with a home-and-home series against Costa Rican club Herediano late next month, just ahead of the MLS season opener.

Atlanta United is eager to become the first MLS club to win the continental championship since the league format began in 2008. Mexican teams have won 10 straight titles, including Chivas’ thrilling victory over Toronto FC last year that came down to penalty kicks.

“We need to have an MLS club win it,” Eales said. “It would be great if that could be Atlanta United.”

But pulling off a CONCACAF title, while also maintaining success in league play, presents a daunting challenge for the new coach. Toronto put its emphasis on winning the Champions League and wound up missing the MLS playoffs.

“We’re not naive. We saw what happened to Toronto,” Eales said. “It’s going to be tough. But we want to be competing on all fronts.”

Atlanta United hires Dutch legend De Boer to replace Martino

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Atlanta United will defend their MLS Cup with Frank De Boer at the helm.

The Major League Soccer side announced De Boer’s hiring on Sunday morning, a shade over two weeks removed from defeating Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup Final.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

De Boer takes over for Tata Martino, who is rumored to be filling the Mexico national team managerial opening.

“The club’s sportive ambitions, as set out in a long-term strategy to be the best in class, clearly fits my personal ambitions,” de Boer said. “I would like to build on the current success to develop a secure, solid foundation for the club at the top of MLS and beyond. Aside from the club’s ambitions, the values, culture and the philosophy for the entire organization are a vital part in realizing that point of success. This is exactly what I believe in as a person and as a coach. All of this combined, makes that I am really excited to be a part of it.”

The Dutchman has been out of management since a short-lived stint running Crystal Palace in 2017, and has also led Ajax and Inter Milan. He won four Eredivisie titles as Ajax boss, and was assistant manager for the Netherlands when the Dutch finished runners-up at the 2010 World Cup.

De Boer is better known as a defender, earning 112 caps and scoring 14 goals for the Netherlands in a career that saw him win the Champions League with Ajax and several domestic titles between the Dutch club and Barcelona.

Report: Frank de Boer the frontrunner for Atlanta United

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According to multiple reports in the United States, including Jeff Carlisle of ESPN and Paul Tenorio of The Athletic, Atlanta United “is​ in​ the​ final stages of its​ coaching​ search” and has labeled Frank De Boer as the “favorite” to replace departed boss Gerardo Martino.

De Boer has been out of management since his disastrous stint in charge of Crystal Palace, where he was sacked after just 450 minutes in charge of the club, the shortest managerial stint in Premier League history as measured by matches in charge.

The 48-year-old also told Dutch news outlet De Telegraaf TV on Friday, “We are pretty close to a solution and that solution is abroad.” He would not specify what country the prospective job opportunity is in.

De Boer made 112 appearances for the Dutch national team as a player, and spent most of his time at the club level with Dutch giants Ajax. He achieved legendary status with fans of both entities by reaching a World Cup semifinal as national team captain and winning a Champions League title with Ajax. He also played three seasons at Barcelona where he achieved a La Liga title.

After his playing days, De Boer entered into management, but it has been rocky throughout. He led the Ajax youth team for three seasons before joining the national team senior side as an assistant, helping the national team to the finals of the 2010 World Cup. His first senior managerial position came with Ajax, where he spent six seasons and won four straight Eredivisie league titles before moving to Italian club Inter in 2016. With Inter in the middle of a rebuild, De Boer lasted just three months in Serie A before he was fired. The next summer, he was hired by Crystal Palace and made it just five matches before he was let go, with five losses and zero goals scored in that span.

De Boer will have massive expectations at Atlanta United, where he will follow Martino’s championship-winning season, achieving an MLS title in just the club’s second season of existence. Martino has reportedly departed to lead the Mexican national team, but reports say they are waiting until the new year to announce his arrival.