Ah yes, the US Open Cup - which is not the golf tournament that was held in Atlanta this weekend for some reason - a tradition unlike any other. Atlanta United has done it, in just three short years it has gone from being eliminated in embarrassing fashion to teams that don’t exist anymore and don’t matter anymore to easily making it to the final. It’s a true accomplishment regardless of the result (except that losing as favorites at home would be bad). In five games Atlanta has also turned around the season and sits atop the Eastern Conference after being in last place or 10th or something to begin the summer.
The team will look to ride that momentum against Minnesota United, who has only beaten Atlanta when strange roster conditions made some players unavailable. Luckily, the Open Cup is basically premised on strange roster rules so that being favorites at home and turning the season around thing might have a caveat or two. Minnesota United is basically the Portland Timbers but in the Midwest and about eight other teams in the West can stake that claim also.
However, they will have additional advantages other than getting an upgrade from mediocre thanks to USOC bylaws giving them a potential edge, they probably want to win this as much as they want to not allow 70 goals for a third straight year. To that end, the team rested its best players against Sporting Kansas City and a struggling Sporks team that Peter Vermes can’t seem to scream at enough to turn their season around won 1-0. That sacrifice may or may not work out but, as a former Everton player, Adrian Heath is quite familiar with terrible decisions.
Atlanta of course has reached the point of a hot streak where results fall to them for the sake of the team walking onto the field after a damp performance in a 1-0 win in Orlando. The team does come into the match with vital championship experience having beaten Club America and the Timbers with cups on the line. That does raise a potential concern, in the playoffs and those finals, Atlanta has thrived against teams that have won something - defeating Supporters Shield winners NYRB and Western Conference champs the Portland Timbers in 2018, while overcoming America, the LigaMX winners, earlier this month. So far, all Minnesota has won is the right to continue existing so Atlanta might need to dig a little deeper to realize they aren’t just playing the Columbus Crew or something tomorrow.
Anyway, here are 17 things to know about the game tomorrow that may or not be true:
- Darwin Quintero is slowly, ever so subtly, turning into a Jucy Lucy.
- According to MLS.com “MLS.com is an independently owned and operated Real Estate Advertising Service Company for Real Estate firms, Mortgage firms, Insurance companies and other real estate related entities.”
- Miguel Ibarra will be unavailable for the game because he’s been eaten by a Moose.
- Ethan Finlay is back to being a mediocre winger after his career was sidetracked when he got a little over his head when he hired two oafs to kidnap his wife because he had defrauded his father-in-law’s car dealership and ended up getting into some shenanigans in a dark comedy along the way - never hire anyone who calls it “pancakes house”.
- Josef Martinez has reached the final stage of Jedi training thanks to Frank de Boer. When FdB said, “The most important thing for me is that he has opportunities, and I’m convinced that when the first goal arrives, more will follow, so I’m not worried,” the striker saw that “Do or do not, there is no try” and now he can just move the ball into the net with his mind.
- All of us sports idiots don’t know what we’re talking about anyway.
- At some point, Ezequiel Barco will gather the ball and turn to goal. Brett Kallman will step to him and rather than try to beat him one v. one, Barco will exploit the centerback’s greatest weakness - (no, not that he’s bad at soccer) his inability to say no if someone says please while asking - and the attacker will simply ask nicely to have a free chance on goal. Kallman will have no choice but to accommodate him (or else he will still get an invite to the Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility summer picnic though nobody will take a bite of his tuna hot dish) BUT he will have something passive aggressive to say about it afterward.
- Adrian Heath will give his players a confusing pregame speech about avenging Orlando City and include details about what winning the USL Championship in 2014 was like and will further confuse them by claiming to have won trophies with Everton.
- All MNUFC has to do to win the game is play flawless defense, dominate the midfield, and take all of their chances with well executed and clinical flawlessness.
- This is a tweet that Minnesota’s twitter account tweeted:
11. If Minnesota can replicate the strategy of playing Atlanta on short rest, during an international break, draw a red card by Atlanta’s keeper, and force the 4th string goalie into the game bus somehow start playing worse up a man while still also almost not winning, the they might have a chance.
12. Darlington Nagbe.
13. Adrian Heath is still trying to figure out if people were actually eating Tide pods or just being ironic, but he does think they are delicious.
14. While its dulcet tones and overly sentimental and inoffensive lyrics of Wonderwall make it great fodder for a tradition that is as cheesy as it is quaint, the song fills Jeff Larentowicz with a rage hotter than the fire of 1,000 suns.
15. A key matchup in the game will be someone named Chase Gasper, who graduated from the University of Maryland and was drafted in the MLS Superdraft, trying to cover one of Julian Gressel, Pity Martinez, or Josef Martinez at any given moment of the game. No really that is going to be a key of the game for Minnesota probably.
16. If Atlanta United wins and gets the double in 2019, it will be the single greatest accomplishment of a third year MLS franchise since the 2000 Chicago Fire only managed to win one trophy.
17. As far as I know, the only crime Minnesota United is guilty of is fielding one of the most embarrassing rosters in league history for two years.