Atlanta certainly has had an exciting year for Football. Martinez going on his insane streak of consecutive games with a goal and both new and old players stepping into the breach for the Five Stripes. There will be some differences in the look of the playoff system this year. There will only be single elimination, which even with home-field advantage can easily sway the momentum to the opposing team. Let us also look at the path that we must take to get to the final. First, we much face the New England Revolution. This will be one of our toughest matchups of the year and it seems as if it could be a real barn burner.
Atlanta needs to get back to itself. United have been playing almost a confused sort of football for the past few games. It’s quite easy to sit back and say in hindsight mistakes that have been made, and there, of course, have been mistakes made as there are with every professional sports team. The team was playing with such fluidity and quickness at the hot streak during the season, it seemed as if the bubble may have popped. That is the main worry heading into these playoffs. Like an MLB team that hits its stride too early in the season, or a UFC fighter who gasses out in the 3rd round of a 5 round fight. The lethargic and sloppy games United have played during these last few weeks have been at times hard to watch.
There is always hope when FDB is at the helm. He looks at the playoffs as a whole new season. Atlanta has been getting plenty of rest over the break, and let’s not forget that we have already won 2 huge cups this season. It has by no means been a failure by our boys and they should be commended for what they have accomplished so far. Atlanta has always wanted one thing though, champions. United managed to bring home the MLS Cup last year, and although the route looks somewhat more difficult it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see this amazing up and down season finished off by winning the MLS cup. As long as Guzan stays stout in goal and Martinez can work his magic along with Gressel coming up the side, there seems to be more than a fighting chance. This is United and although the team has had slumps, they have been arguably the best team with only 3 years played in the history of the MLS up to this point.
I was recently in Europe in both Amsterdam, London, and Nantes France. I have tried my best to keep up with United, although the games cannot be streamed. Most of the football fans I talked to were, of course, fans of the famous Dutch club Ajax. Many of them already knew about Atlanta United and Martinez. After mentioning I wrote for Sports Illustrated I was surprised when the comment was made that we could come in front of PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch League. It seems to be a completely fair assessment. United would be top 3 in most leagues in Europe except the EPL, Bundesliga.
Atlanta has a long road ahead, but there are plenty of reasons for 5 Stripe fans to be optimistic. Every one of our amazing fans will be all out for the team as always. Truly the Atlanta fans are what helps bring more wins to the city. The players themselves have admitted the crowd makes a huge difference. I hope the players know that the same level of intensity will be brought as it always is, and the whole city is behind them in support.