Atlanta United defeated St. Louis FC 2-0 Wednesday night and booked a spot in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals for the first time in franchise history.
The Five Stripes finally broke the deadlock at the 52nd minute as ‘Pity’ Martinez scored off a shot that he was able to place in the top right corner of the goal off an assist by newcomer Emerson Hyndman. And then, in the last play of the match, Josef Martinez scored the second goal of the night off a penalty kick.
Atlanta will face Orlando SC in the semifinals at Exploria Stadium Aug. 6 but before that match, here are my three thoughts on the Five Stripes victory over St. Louis FC:
Newly-signed player Hyndman made his debut for the Five Stripes Wednesday night, and overall, he put on a good performance where he was just short of scoring his first goal in an Atlanta kit.
It was clear that Hyndman’s chemistry is not quite perfect with his teammates, but he showed a lot of promise, and with more training time, we should expect to see Hyndman more in the field. Which will raise the question, whose place is he going to take? Once the likes of Tito Villalba, Ezequiel Barco, and Kevin Kratz return, it will be to see how manager Frank De Boer will handle the responsibilities of finding a place for all these players.
Going all out for the Cup
After seeing the starting lineup that faces St. Louis FC, it is quite clear that De Boer is putting all the marbles into winning the U.S. Open Cup for the first time in franchise history. Which, is not such a bad thing for two reasons, one, it would add another trophy to Atlanta’s trophy case which already features two (MLS Cup and Eastern Conference Champions). And second, the winner of the tournament automatically earns a spot to compete in the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.
The club has made it clear that they want to compete in CONCACAF every year and with two games away from reaching that tournament, they might as well go all in and reach such goal early in the season.
Busy schedule ahead
Between Aug. 3rd and Aug. 18, Atlanta will play five matches, including 3 MLS matches, one U.S. Open Cup match and Campeones Cup, which will feature Atlanta facing either Club America or Tigres from Mexico. If Atlanta advances to the final of the Open Cup, the number of matches will increase to eight in August.
After playing just five matches in June, Atlanta will play seven in July, in which it’ll be interesting to see how De Boer will handle player rotations for the rest of the month. De Boer previously mentioned that he does not like to rotate many players from game to game, so we shouldn’t expect many lineup changes going forward, but at the same time, players need their rest so when their name gets called up, they can perform at their best level. Hopefully, Villalba, Barco, Kratz, Florentin Pogba and George Bello will be healed up by then so they can provide more depth to the squad.