The Call Up

Are Atlanta United back? Maurice Edu sure thinks so

Don't look now, but Atlanta United are surging and have the look of an imposing side that'll strike fear during the remainder of the regular season or, possibly, in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Coming off a 3-2 home win over D.C. United last Saturday, the Five Stripes have now won seven of their last eight games and are back above the Eastern Conference playoff line.

Former MLS midfielder Maurice Edu joined the latest The Call Up episode with co-hosts Susannah Collins and Jillian Sakovits by answering a simple question: Are Atlanta United back?

"I mean, yeah, how do you not say they are?" Edu said. "It's the results, but it's also the way that they're playing, it's the way they're getting the results. I think that's what the fans expect. They expect them to win games but they expect them to do it in a way that's attractive football, the flair."

It's been a remarkable turnaround after Atlanta's rough start to the season resulted in the departure of Gabriel Heinze and the hiring of new head coach Gonzalo Pineda. In between, now-assistant coach Rob Valentino admirably steadied the ship.

Regardless of the root cause, Atlanta's attack is currently firing on all cylinders, led by a recent breakout from Ezequiel Barco, a return to goal-scoring form from Josef Martinez and the arrival of Designated Player Luiz Araujo.

Edu cited Araujo in particular as a game-changing force, who looks every bit worth his lofty price tag. The Brazilian winger was signed on deadline day from reigning Ligue 1 title-holders Lille.

"Josef is one goal away from 100, Marcelino Moreno's been probably the most consistent player for them over the course of the season so far. Barco since he got back from the Olympics has been ridiculous," Edu said. "And then of course, Araujo has come in and, small sample size, but already he just looks like he's well worth the money.

"I think sometimes we've seen in this league it takes DPs a little while to settle and find their feet and then come into form. I mean, this guy has looked exciting and dynamic since the first time he stepped on the pitch for them so far."

For more from Edu on The Call Up, be sure to check out the full episode here.