After watching all of the goals from the 2018 MLS Cup-winning season (YouTube video link above) it helped to form a set of things Atlanta United must do to advance to the 2nd consecutive MLS Cup Final. Some of these are slightly tweaked since Miggy now plays for Newcastle United, however, these few things are important to Atlanta reigning victorious.
Martinez can’t miss easy chances: So far in these playoff games, there have been some pretty serious misses from the Venezuelan Striker. Rarely if ever do we see #7 miss point-blank goal open shots. In reviewing the tape from last year it is also evident that Martinez is gifted for any player with his head, despite his small stature. He scored a litany of goals with his head on long crosses where he could get under them. It seems as if we have not seen him do so much of that this year, especially in the playoffs. The most important factor is that when he gets in behind which he is always going to do at some point; he put away the ball in the back of the net without hesitation. Martinez has always been a big-game player, so he can be expected to show up again tonight against Toronto.
Julian Gressel must get free: Julian Gressel, it could be argued, is the 2nd best player on the team. The guy is spot on with his crosses. As mentioned before, the balls he puts in are akin to a Marine Sniper having the capability of hitting a dime at 300 yards. The guy is magic with his right foot, and to boot, he is phenomenal off of the volley and on first touch shots. Although he is more valued for the goals that he sets up, Julian Gressel is more than capable of putting the ball in the net himself both from distance and close. Tonight he must use his deceptive speed and wondrous right foot to set up Martinez or Barco. Both of whom will certainly be roaming about the box tonight.
Guzan must keep playing like “The Guzzzz”: Brad Guzan has been the best keeper throughout these playoffs. The only goal he has conceded thus far was in the first game against the Union. He has had some game-saving moments on quite a few occasions as well. For him to be able to pitch another clean sheet would be huge for The Five Stripes. As every defender in any sport has heard, “If we score we may win, if they score they man win, if they never score, we’ll never lose. Defense wins championships.” That quote has always been attributed to the late great UGA and GA Southern Coach Erk Russell. If our defense can keep Guzan from having to make too many difficult saves the greater the chance that one of them goes in. Since he has been in great form 5 Stripes Supporters should be confident in the American keeper.
As always Atlanta must follow the game plan of FDB. He has done a fine job this season, and his coaching has gotten United this far. Certainly following the game plan will be imperative when the lights come on at Mercedes Benz Stadium tonight at 8:00 PM. Once again destiny is staring United in the face and we all get to see if they step up to the challenge yet again.