Hartford Athletic started the 2021 USL Championship season with 10 points from its first five matches.
It was a flying start punctuated by a swashbuckling 7-0 home win over New York Red Bulls II in early June, which seemed to confirm that then first-year coach Harry Watling had a squad brimming with attacking brio.
It was not, however, a sustainable pace. Athletic collected only 31 additional points from the remaining 27 matches and finished outside the playoff positions in the Eastern Conference. Hartford was built to start fast, but not to last for 32 games. The middle portion of the season turned out to be the most difficult to negotiate, with only 21 points from 22 matches.
"There was a stretch where it just didn’t work for us," Watling said. "It didn’t click, and we had to try and press the reset button a number of times on certain occasions."