It’s only been a week since Atletico Atlanta won their first UPSL title, but they’re already being called upon to start the process of defending it.
That process starts right here in the Georgia Division of the UPSL Premier, a brand refresh for the top tier of the country’s largest pre-professional league.
The Peach State’s highest level of local soccer has a very new look from last season, sporting two divisions for the first time ever.
The first division will reside in the UPSL Premier, and it’s the one we’ll focus on this season at smallworld. Of course, it’s also the home of Atletico as they search for a second straight title.
This might seem a little counterintuitive considering we’re talking about a team that finished with a record of 21 wins from 21 matches last fall, but I’m not sure they’re my odds-on favorite to win the league. They just faced what will probably be their biggest test in Seas Jamaica United on Saturday, and that 1-1 result is enough to convince me that United have what it takes to clinch the title this year.
Without further ado, let’s have a peek at my power rankings for REAL SOCCER for the first time in a very long while.
- Seas Jamaica United, +0 from last week (D 1-1 v Atletico). The team representing the Reggae Boyz danced their way to a monumental opening day point. They held a team that hasn’t lost in over a year when they shut out Atletico Atlanta, and they’ll now feel like they can go on and potentially win the division. Such is the momentum that a draw against Atletico provides.
- Atletico Atlanta, +0 from last week (D 1-1 v Seas Jamaica). It was probably a disappointment to draw a match after winning all 21 contests in the fall. That said, though, there’s little shame in splitting the points with a team like Seas. Since each team plays every other team just once during the regular season, it’ll now come down to how these top two can take care of business against the rest of the league. Challengers like Matata, LSA, and Kalonji will be fully capable of taking points off both Atletico and Seas, so they’ll have to keep their concentration going forward.
- FC Matata, +0 from last week (W 4-0 v Elephants). They opened the season in dominant fashion, taking down what’s expected to be a competitive Elephants team 4-0. It was over by halftime, and a result that indicates Matata are ready to avenge their narrow playoff loss last year to Ginga. They have the talent to win this division, and they’ll have a chance to prove it for a second-straight week when they go up against an awakened division giant in Kalonji.
- LSA Limeño, +0 from last week (no match). We were robbed of a season opener that would have been highly exciting between Limeño and Kalonji, so we haven’t seen LSA in action yet. They finished third last year, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to crack the top three again this season. That said, they’re got some serious competition, and they’ll have to prove they deserve a top three spot before I give it to them.
- Kalonji Pro-Profile, +0 from last week (no match). Kalonji took a couple of years off, but they were one of the scariest teams in the state when they last played in what was then the Atlanta Caribbean Division. A lot has changed since then, but don’t expect them to drop off. They’ll be competitive and have high hopes of a title, but they’ll have to get some key results for me to take them seriously as a title contender.
- Potros, +0 from last week (W 1-0 v Forest). It’s not exactly time to plan a trip to the national finals this summer, but Potros have made a marked improvement from last season. With a year of UPSL soccer under their belts, the boys in black and tan kicked off their season with an impressive clean sheet and a 1-0 win. It’s early, but they look the part of a team that could challenge for the top six.
- Atlanta Elephants, +0 from last week (L 4-0 v Matata). Part of every opening weekend ever is figuring out how much to read into that first result of the season. Elephants were hammered 4-0 by Matata, but how much of that is chalked up to the quality of their opponent? It remains to be seen, but what’s clear is that the brand-new UPSL squad will have to improve upon that performance if they want to see a top six spot.
- Club ATLetic, +0 from last week (week off). ATLetic weren’t scheduled for a match this weekend, so they’ll kick off their return to UPSL at home against Kalonji on Saturday the 20th. It could be a bumpy ride in their first year back after some ADASL play in the gap, but they’ve got the quality to compete with anyone and won’t exactly make life easy on Kalonji.
- Rovers FC, +0 from last week (W 2-0 v Stone Mountain). It was a good way to kick off life as a UPSL team, but that will likely be the easiest test they face all year. A win is a win, though, and Rovers will look to prove it’s not a fluke when they face defending champs Atletico Atlanta next Saturday.
- Forest Rovers, +0 from last week (L 0-1 to Potros). It’s not an ideal start in a matchup they would have thought was winnable, but hope isn’t lost. They should still expect to finish above a few clubs this season, but they’ll have to earn it.
- FC Stone Mountain, +0 from last week (L 0-2 v Rovers). This is not a great start. Rovers FC controlled their opener from the onset, and I don’t exactly expect them to be at the upper echelon of the league this year. Stone Mountain could be in for some serious struggles based on that result.
Now, let’s have a look at the league table after a week of fixtures:
- FC Matata, 3 pts, +4 GD. Form: —-W
- Rovers FC, 3 pts, +2 GD. Form: —-W
- Potros FC, 3 pts, +1 GD. Form: —-W
- Atletico Atlanta, 1 pt, 0 GD. Form: —-D
- Seas Jamaica United FC, 1 pt, 0 GD. Form: —-D
- Club ATLetic, 0 pts, 0 GD. Form: —–
- Kalonji Pro-Profile, 0 pts, 0 GD. Form: —–
- LSA Limeño, 0 pts, 0 GD. Form: —–
- Forest Rovers FC, 0 pts, -1 GD. Form: —-L
- FC Stone Mountain, 0 pts, -2 GD. Form: —-L
- Atlanta Elephants, 0 pts, -4 GD. Form: —-L
Predictions for the weekend, with seeding taken from power rankings and all times eastern:
next week’s fixtures
- 9) Rovers v 2) Atletico – 3.20 at 2 PM
Atletico bounces back from a draw with a show of dominance that brings Rovers back to earth. 4-1 Atletico.
- 6) Potros v 7) Elephants – 3.20 at 4 PM
Potros looked great last week and the Elephants… did not. But the Ivorians are probably the more talented squad, so I’ll give them the edge. 2-1 Elephants.
- 4) LSA v 11) Stone Mountain – 3.20 at 4 PM
Easiest decision all week. LSA can get their season kicked off in much easier fashion than they would have before the Kalonji game was postponed. 5-0 to LSA.
- 8) ATLetic v 5) Kalonji – 3.20 at 7 PM
ATLetic aren’t pushovers by any stretch, but Kalonji should prove to be superior. They take this one 3-1 away from home.
- 1) Seas Jamaica v 10) Forest Rovers – 3.21 at 4 PM
Seas are on a high and should ride that wave into a big win here. 3-0 win at home.
3rd-ranked FC Matata have a free weekend.
That’s all from week one of the UPSL Premier Georgia Division! There’s a lot to look forward to in the league, and this is the place to keep up with all of it over the next few months.
Until next week, stay weird and support local soccer!