In famous sports movies before the huge game a coach is expected to give a huge motivational speech to get their team ready. When the Miami Sharks were down big in the playoffs, Al Pacino recited the greatest lines ever written in the genre. Team USA were massive underdogs against Iceland, but Emilio Estevez reminded them that Ducks fly together. Tata Martino has prepared a similar speech ahead of the crucial away match against D.C. United. He was kind enough to send me an advanced copy. Unfortunately it’s all in Spanish. So, I’m just going to guess at what it all means. Here goes.
The Scene: RFK’s away dressing room. The walls covered in mold and stains. In walks Tata Martino to a eerily quiet room. Greg Garza isn’t cracking jokes. Julian Gressel isn’t tweeting about pizza. Hell, Miguel Almiron isn’t even smiling. The team is laser-focused, yet antsy and slightly nervous about the possible embarrassment that losing three times to D.C. would bring. Martino sets his cup of mate down and begins.
We face a grim challenge as we walk into battle against our old foes D.C. United. Over the last two weeks, we have done much analysis on our opponents. While D.C. United looks like a football team, has uniforms like a football team, and plays on a football field, they are actually not a football team. I must apologize to all of you and take full responsibility for this mistake. Though, we are a football team and I expect to usually play against other football teams, so you can understand my confusion.
As I have told you many times, it is important to pass the ball to each other and try to score goals. Ben Olsen does not believe in these things, this man clearly hates goals and from what I have seen goals are the point of football, but any man who dresses his squad like they are an army of vampires set on hypnotizing their opponents by kicking the ball out of bounds repeatedly and having a general strategy of smashing the ball 80 yards away from their goal with every touch before draining all of the life force out of their opponents are not here to play football. They are something else entirely.
We have reviewed the film and there was one play I did not notice, here is a clip:
You can all see here, we are getting run over by a parked bus, not losing to a football team. This seems impossible, and yet it is what happened in both games. In the first match, DC relied on an own goal to turn the game and in the second an error in the back gave away the match. We cannot score two goals for them and expect to win.
Things may be more difficult this time, DC has acquired a new winger who his former teammates Greg Garza and Brandon Vazquez have provided the following scouting material on:
Today we face a challenge that we have seldom had to address: how does a football team play football against a bus? But things will be different - Josef is healthy, Carlos did not play in the last match against them, and I could no longer bear to watch Tyrone Mears turn our attacks into back-passes.
In the end, the result today will come down to you. How do you want to be remembered this season? As a football club that was the best expansion team in league history - oh, except for losing to a team that has won 1⁄3 of its games all year against you - a team that won 1⁄3 of its games because of own goals? Think of the fans, do you want them to be on twitter hearing bantz from a club whose owners value them so highly that they included Sebastian LeToux on their roster until it was time to go begging for attention before opening a new stadium?
I know that you are scared, this building is frightening. I have managed in South America and there are countries where it would be condemned, it is an unfit dwelling even for trash eating mega rodents. Ben Olsen also scares me, anyone who played as an attacking player but has purged his team of any kind of creativity or fun should strike fear into the hearts of men. But tonight, we cannot be afraid.
In less than an hour, football players from South America will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the third match of the season against one of the worst teams in the history of football.
Football -- that word should have new meaning for all of us today.
We can't be consumed by our lack of concentration against awful teams like DCU anymore.
We will be Atlanta United in our common interests.
Perhaps its fate that today is eight weeks and one day after the 4th of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom, not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution -- but from parking the bus.
We're fighting for our right not to have the midfield cynically clogged up, for passing lanes to exist.
And should we win the day, eight weeks and one day after the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when Atlanta United declared in one voice:
We will not go quietly onto the bus!
We will not lose three games to DC United without a fight!
We're going to live on!
We're going to survive!
Today, we celebrate our Independence Day from parking the bus.