Some pretty cool stuff happened yesterday: Atlanta United clinched a trip to the playoffs; it was Arthur Blank’s birthday; the Five Stripes kept their fifth clean sheet in six games at MBS; and the unbeaten streak at home extended to 12 games.
With the playoffs nailed down Atlanta can still do a lot to help their situation in the post-season. Though it is unlikely, the team can even win the Supporters’ Shield if exactly everything breaks their way. More likely is that the team continues its run of hot form and pushes as high as second in the Eastern Conference table.
Last night’s game against Philadelphia was a display of what makes this team so special. The goals came from the team’s star striker Josef Martinez, its standout rookie Julian Gressel, and the man-bunned late goal specialist Jacob Peterson. Atlanta dominated the game almost completely. Philadelphia was content to sit back and let the Five Stripes try to break them down while failing to put anything together going forward. The second half was a bit brighter for the Union, but their chances were foiled by Brad Guzan and the crossbar.
Some people aren’t impressed that Atlanta, a city a whole bunch of people thought that soccer wouldn’t work in, clinched the playoffs as an expansion team though:
Great, dominant stretch, but zero of those games were against playoff teams. Tranquilo, friend.https://t.co/v9bxCisVNv— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) September 28, 2017
Get this garbage, broken down jalopy of a hot take out of the fast lane Doyle! Cool it? On the night Atlanta booked a trip to the playoffs and ended sitting in third place in the entire league?
Atlanta hasn’t lost in 12 straight in any stadium located in the city of Atlanta. They’ve beaten Columbus twice, NYCFC, and Chicago this year and those were games that just gave glimpses of what Atlanta United could be. Meanwhile, at Mercedes Benz Stadium they’ve effectively ruined the chances of New England, Orlando, and Montreal of making the playoffs all while clinching our place near the top of the Supporters’ Shield race much less the Eastern Conference.
I told Doyle he might not be right and he came back with more original fire:
You guys lost to D.C. United three times...https://t.co/80RUVq8kaL— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) September 28, 2017
Losing to a keeper howler and two own goals isn’t evidence that Atlanta United fans aren’t watching one of the best teams in MLS on one of the best runs of form that any team could dream of. And come on! This is MLS those results mean as much as the greatest American professional soccer team in the history of Canada, Toronto FC, losing to Montreal 5-3. Come the MLS Playoffs, no team will want to play Atlanta United anywhere but especially at home in front of what could be 70,000 people.
I have massive respect for Matt Doyle, but as you can tell he did make me Mad Online (TM) leading me to cover myself in glory. I mean, I only manage to get people this worked up when I write like 1,500 words about something to do with politics and the US National Teams, so good on him, he did it in like 73 characters.
Anyway, here’s how it looked on the box score...
There it is, even with the re-shuffled lineup, Atlanta United looked like Atlanta United and put up another three goals at home. If the Union changed their name to the Philadelphia Blakes I don’t think anyone would argue, plus they put the touchline to work yesterday.
The team stats paint a picture of a squad who crushed the Union, didn’t allow their striker, who is having a career year, to score, and did it all on two days rest without their starting center back, left back, and heartbeat of the attack (I lied about not being mad online anymore).
Atlanta United will get back to trying to beat unimpressive opponents that aren’t going to the playoffs again, but this time on the road in Foxboro on Saturday.