New York City find themselves in their best form as they host a deflated Atlanta United team for the East Semifinals of the 2018 MLS Playoffs.
After a seemingly effortless win, David Villa’s men proved to be too much for the Philadelphia Union as they grabbed a spot in the Semifinals at Yankee Stadium.
While they had a fairly average season for their high expectations, NYCFC held a 3rd spot in the Eastern Conference which gifted them the home advantage factor against the Union. But even without it, a fledgling Philadelphia didn’t really stand a chance.
NYCFC has continued to show their advanced midfield play and heavy attacking presence. However, they are not top heavy in attack. Their defense, including Defensive Player of the Year nominee Alex Callens, has come together in the nick of time to make for an impressive, overall team.
Injuries and Rumors
The face of ATL UTD, Miguel Almiron, wasn’t present in the 4-1 spanking that Toronto handed Atlanta a week ago. However, his presence would have hardly made a difference.
The Atlanta back line looked scattered most of the time and gave away the ball way too many times. Many speculations could be made about this subpar performance, especially now that the pressure of the playoffs is on.
Could it be that Atlanta, being a young team still, isn’t used to the pressure and fails to adapt to a different play tactic without their number 10? What will they do when Almiron is transferred to a different club?
With the confirmed rumors that Current head coach Tata Martino is set to leave Atlanta, one can only imagine the thoughts going on in the Atlanta United locker room. Tata Martino embodied what Atlanta United has become and, in fact, players exclusively accepted playing in Atlanta solely because the Great Tata would be coaching. Now that Martino has packed his bags, it marks the great next step for Atlanta and the direction in which they choose to go from now is crucial in their history and culture.
With all of this being said, what’s important for Atlanta United right now is to keep a clear mind and remember the work they’ve put in throughout the regular season.
The amount of work and exciting performances that catapulted them to a second seed in the MLS playoffs.
It’s time to remember who we are as a city and as a collective.
Arturo Principe | @ArturoPrincipe1