Atlanta United defeated Minnesota United 2-1 to claim the U.S. Open Cup trophy Tuesday night. With the win, the Five Stripes have qualified for the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League, a tournament where Atlanta advanced to the quarterfinals earlier in the year before falling to Monterrey. Here are my three thoughts on Atlanta winning the Open Cup:
Before I start:
There was a writer that covers an Atlanta team for a local news outlet that kept tweeting about how he doesn’t care for the Five Stripes or soccer in general and how MLS is a minor league and therefore isn’t relevant (You guys can find who I’m talking about on reddit or twitter).
I don’t want to spend too much time on this so I’ll just say this — support your local teams. Me, I want Atlanta/Georgia sports teams to do well and bring championships to the city and state. I have friends who didn’t care much for soccer before Atlanta United, but now, they are fans of the team and they go to games, they go to watch parties for away games, they even travel to other cities to support the team on the road. If you don’t like a certain sport, that’s completely okay. I’m not a fan of every sport out there but at the same time, I’m not going to criticize it simply because it doesn’t appeal to me. If you have nothing nice to say, it’s just better to not say anything at all.
Now back to it, another trophy for Atlanta:
The Five Stripes have now won three trophies in a span of nine months, which is a good thing for a franchise that is only two and a half years old. From day one, the club emphasized that they wanted to win trophies and this club is doing exactly that.
By winning the U.S. Open Cup, Atlanta will compete once again in the CONCACAF Champions League, a tournament that no MLS team has ever won, so Atlanta will compete with the hope of being the first one. Now, Atlanta will attempt to go back-to-back in MLS Cups as the only matches remaining this season will lead to the MLS playoffs.
If Atlanta is able to win the MLS championship again, this could be defined by many as the start of a dynasty, but that’s just me getting ahead of myself.
Tough but great month of August:
August was considered a “make it or break it” kind of month for Atlanta given that the Open Cup was in play, Campeones Cup would take place and the team would also play five MLS matches.
And well, with only one match remaining in the month, Atlanta is currently undefeated this month, which includes two huge road victories in MLS play against Portland and Orlando. After a slow start to the season and many fans showed their displeasure early on, this team has completely turned it around and is now in first place in the Eastern Conference and have added two trophies to its cabinet.
I’m excited about what is ahead for this team heading into the final part of the regular season and the playoffs.
Depth and more depth:
This team has relied on its depth to win key matches this month. A big praise goes out to Darren Eales and Carlos Bocanegra for acquiring players such as Justin Meram, Emerson Hyndman, Florentin Pogba and Dion Pereira because those players have played such a big role in this team, that they’re even fighting for a spot in the starting 11.
With most of the injured players now back in the roster (with the exception of George Bello), this team is in a good position to continue its winning streak and seal a spot as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, which would give them home-field advantage in the playoffs.