Bob Bradley would like to kindly remind you who the best MLS expansion team of all time was.
Hint: He doesn’t think it’s Atlanta United.
Speaking on Soccer Today out of 103.3 FM ESPN Radio in Dallas, Bradley took a question from host Steve Davis about the league’s most successful MLS teams and drew a line in the sand between his 1998 Chicago Fire squad, and the 2009 Seattle Sounders and this year’s Atlanta side.
“Atlanta’s doing very well, Seattle’s doing very well. We won the double, Steve,” said Bradley, who will steer another expansion voyage next season as the coach of Los Angeles FC. “So when you say we did ‘very well,’ let’s cut to the chase a little bit. We won the double. As good as Atlanta’s doing this year, when there was a headline earlier this year that said this is the greatest expansion team of all time, somebody lost their mind.”
Bradley’s Fire squad remains the only team to defeat D.C. United in an MLS Cup Final, downing the Black-and-Red in a 2-0 match at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 25, 1998. Five days later, the Fire defeated the Columbus Crew 2-1 on Frank Klopas’ 99th-minute Golden Goal to win the U.S. Cup and complete the second double in MLS history. (D.C. completed the first in 1996.)
“That Chicago team probably never got the credit it deserved because there were those people that didn’t like the makeup of the team or where certain guys came from,” Bradley said. “But inside the league, if you talk to players who played against those Chicago teams, I can assure you the level of respect was very, very high.”
Atlanta enter Wednesday’s home match against the New England Revolution (7:00 pm ET | MLS LIVE) just above the playoff line in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The Five Stripes have at least two matches in hand on every other team in the conference and could climb higher in the standings with seven of their final nine games at home. They would be the first expansion team since Seattle in 2009 to make the MLS postseason.
Does Bradley think Atlanta’s performances have added to the pressure on his group in 2018?
“There’s definitely pressure,” he said. “Atlanta’s part of it, but the pressure is because this is Los Angeles. And this is a city when it comes to sports that understands winning.”