Atlanta United defeated Philadelphia Union 2-0 Thursday night to clinch a spot in its second Eastern Conference Final in a row.
The Five Stripes are now one game away from playing MLS Cup Final once again and will battle Toronto FC for such opportunity.
Here are my three thoughts on United’s win over the Union:
Frank De Boer has gotten everything right so far
During this match, De Boer decided to put Florentin Pogba and Mikey Ambrose in the starting 11, two players who are not “regulars” in the lineup. He also took out Justin Meram and gave Pity Martinez an opportunity to be in the starting 11, Pity had not played in the last two matches. The changes in the lineup paid off as the team did not seem to miss a beat and was clicking throughout most of the match.
And then, De Boer substituted in Emerson Hyndman, Eric Remedi and Mo Adams. Three subs that helped Atlanta settled into a defensive formation towards the end of the match, and with Josef Martinez scoring the insurance goal in the 80th minute, United never had to worry about letting the match get away from them.
It’ll be interesting to see if De Boer will place the same 11 in the next match against Toronto, but even if he doesn’t, I don’t think there’s any room to question his decisions.
Strong in the back
With Miles Robinson and Michael Parkhurst out due to injury, De Boer has been forced to field players that may have not seen much action in the regular season. But despite those changes, Atlanta’s defense has played great.
During Philly’s match, the Union only had one clear goal scoring opportunity where Brad Guzan was able to make a great save.
An interesting statistic to notice is that dating back to last year, the Five Stripes have only allowed one goal in seven playoff matches.
Two wins away from another championship
The Five Stripes are now in a position to possibly make it to the MLS Cup final and defend its title from 2018. After a rough start to the season, many people may have doubted if this team was possible of defending its title but the last two performances have definitely raised the hope that this team can win MLS for the second year in a row.
Now Atlanta fans will hope that Seattle will be able to upset LAFC at home so they can host the final at Mercedes-Benz, if United defeats Toronto. Otherwise, Atlanta could be playing in Los Angeles during the final and while the road record may not be in Atlanta’s favor, this team is definitely within reach of winning.
But before we start talking about finals, let’s hope the team can take care of business Wednesday night and win the Eastern Conference for the second year in a row.