ATL Sports HQ Live Episode 5

ATL Sports HQ members Phil, Bob, Daric and Tushar will be live for episode 5 of the show. They will be talking about Atlanta United and their playoff performance so far, SEC Championship, the Hawks, Falcons poor performance, Braves and end with Buy or Sell segment. Make sure you tune in for the live show at 8:45 p.m. on Thursday.

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ATL UTD Eastern Conference Finals Preview: New York Red Bulls

This Sunday, Atlanta United get set to play their first Eastern Conference finals against the Supporters’ Shield winners, New York Red Bulls.

Atlanta United vs NYRB
Atlanta United vs NYRB http://www.atlutd.com

First things first, the New York Red Bulls are coming into the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 2-0 lead up on Atlanta during the regular season. With their main goalscorer, Bradley Wright Phillips, in fine form,  the Atlanta defense has their work cut out for them.

While Atlanta is not inferior by any means, statistically or talent-wise, what they do have that Atlanta doesn’t, is experience. The New York Red Bulls have participated in 17 playoff matches alongside their goalscorer Wright-Phillips, so they’re no strangers to the MLS Playoffs, or the Eastern Conference finals for that matter.

Tata Out

Tata Martino
Tata Martino http://www.elsol.com.ar

With Tata Martino almost certainly out of the picture for the 5 Stripes for next year, he’s going to want to leave a good and long-lasting impression on the tremendous fan base Atlanta has acquired over the last year and a half. By making the right calls at the right time throughout the regular season, Tata has earned himself a place in Atlanta history by leading his squad to the Conference finals and earning the prestigious Coach of the Year award along the way.

With Martino masterminding the whole team, and with a full and healthy squad (with the exception of backup striker Romario Williams) Atlanta United will be able to give the Red Bulls everything they’ve got when they square off in the Benz.

The MLS Conference Finals We’ve Been Waiting For

Josef Martinez vs. NYRB
Josef Martinez vs. NYRB http://www.scoopnest.com

Sometimes, it’s up for debate whether or not the two best teams actually made it to the finals. However, this is not the case. In terms of points, the Red Bulls beat out Atlanta United by 2 points (71 to 69) to grab the record for most points in an MLS season. Who was in 2nd place? Atlanta was.

This will be the finals with the best two Eastern Conference teams and it could go either way, to be honest. This season, we’ve seen these two powerhouses go back and forth achieve win after win and claw their way out of any sort of slump they may have found themselves in, only to find themselves come back even stronger.  Leg 1 of 2 will be the particularly important because it’ll be where we have home field advantage so we need to make the most of it.

 

Arturo Principe | @ArturoPrincipe1

 

 

Atlanta United moves on to the Conference Finals! | NYCFC Leg 2 Recap

For the first time ever in Atlanta United history, the 5 Stripes move on to the Conference Finals of the 2018 MLS Playoffs. 

Guzan and Barco share an embrace
Guzan and Barco share an embrace http://www.929thegame.com

In stunning fashion, Atlanta took control of their own fate when it was crunch time.

Already coming in hot with a 1-0 score after leaving Yankee Stadium, Tata Martino’s squad were able to demonstrate how much they wanted to advance in the playoffs after two great goals from Martinez and Almiron, respectively.

Josef’s goal came from a provoked penalty. As always, his spunk showed through the cheeky set up of the penalty kick and he found the back of the net, as he has so many times before during the regular MLS season.

Miguel Almiron
Miguel Almiron http://www.apnews.com

After getting thrown around and tackled by what seemed to be the majority of the NYCFC lineup, Almiron’s goal arrived just in time.

His speed was able to earn him a free kick in a great spot for a classy goal. Almiron’s free kick hit the upper 90 of the New York net and before the first half was over, Atlanta was up 2-0. Just as the halftime whistle was about to blow, NYCFC were able to breathe some life into their game as Chanot scored 1 for the away team.

A bad giveaway from New York led to Martinez scoring Atlanta United’s 3rd goal of the game. After that, the score remained the same.

Josef-Martinez-in-Nike-Superfly
Josef Martinez in Nike Superfly http://www.soccerhowtodo.com

After a bad end to their MLS regular season, it seems that Atlanta United have found their rhythm once more and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With Almiron healthy and the rest of their regular starting XI in good form, Atlanta is coming into the conference finals shooting on all cylinders.

The next challenge will be facing the New York Red Bulls late November to see which team moves on to the finals. The Red Bulls, who took the Supporters’ Shield from Atlanta at the very last match of the regular season, are playing great soccer and beat out the Columbus Crew on a 3-1 aggregate score to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

Arturo Principe | @ArturoPrincipe1

ATL UTD Playoffs Leg 1 Recap: NYCFC

After a scrappy 1-0 win, Atlanta United head back to the Benz to finish the job against New York City FC.

ATL UTD vs NYCFC
ATL UTD vs NYCFC http://www.mercedezbensstadium.com

After the match that shall not be named (against Toronto FC), speculation was made that there was no true substitute for Almiron and what he provides to keep the 5 Stripes back line organized and the offense running. As you can imagine, leaving Yankee Stadium with the win held much more than statistical value.

Almost making an immediate impact after his return, Miguel Almiron scored what would have given Atlanta United the lead in the 21st minute with a beautiful rainbow chip over Sean Johnson. However, after consulting with VAR, the ref concluded that the goal would not count due to interference. The city of Atlanta did not agree.

As the match went on, Atlanta was able to make the most of their chances by achieving their first ever MLS Playoffs win last Sunday. They were also able to maintain their team morale thanks to a tap in from Eric Remedi after a corner. 

This win didn’t come easy. As NYCFC started out the match, they were very aggressive in ALL senses of the word.

Not only was New York generating clearer opportunities and attacking more, they also seemed to be, well, attacking more. On the bright side, the high amount of fouls led to the most fouls called in the first half of an MLS game ever, another record broken by Atlanta United.

Garza’s Back!

Garza vs. NYCFC
Garza vs. NYCFC http://www.firsttouchonline.com

A return that wasn’t mentioned as much as Almiron’s was Defender Greg Garza‘s. Both Captain Michael Parkhurst and Garza played a big part in Atlanta keeping their 1-0 lead intact until the 90 minutes were up. It was the first time this season where NYCFC was not able to get a single shot on goal.

In a team full of younger guys, putting Garza back in the starting XI in a Playoff game after being out for most of the regular season shows how much Tata and his coaching staff trust Garza’s experience and ability to lead the team.

Garza played a beautiful game and didn’t let his position confine him to one part of the field. His scorching pace allowed him to make smart runs on the width of the pitch which allowed him to make efficient crosses to the midfield or to whoever found themselves closest to the rival’s box.

Holding it Down in the A

Mercedes Benz Stadium
Mercedes Benz Stadium http://www.ajc.com

We’re back in the Benz this Sunday for Round 2 and New York City has a lot of problems to deal with coming their way.

After limiting Almiron to 45 minutes last week, he’ll likely to be on the pitch for the full 90 this week. Not only that, but our home record speaks for itself (11-2-4). In our 2nd year, we have nothing to lose and everything to prove. Let’s make Atlanta proud.

 

Arturo Principe | @ArturoPrincipe1

ATL UTD vs. Chicago Fire Recap

With Almiron and Villalba both out in what was one of the less exciting ATL UTD home matches, the 5 Stripes pulled off a victory against the Chicago Fire last Sunday.

Gressel vs. Chicago Fire
Gressel vs. Chicago Fire http://www.hottimeinoldtown.com

Finally playing at the Benz again after a series of road games, Atlanta United clinched their CONCACAF Champions League 2019 spot with a home win over Chicago and are set to participate in international competition next year.

Many speculations were made due to the absences of the big name players like Miguel or Tito in this match and just how Tata Martino would tinker with the lineup to make up for their play-making creativity (Almiron) and explosiveness down the width of the pitch (Villalba). However, the starting XI more than held their own against the Men in Red.

Atlanta United, armed in a 4-3-3 formation, gave homegrown Andrew Carleton the nod to start as well as Ezequiel Barco, both of which tend to come on as subs throughout the game.

After only 9 minutes, Defender Franco Escobar received the perfect opportunity to give the 5 Stripes the lead and he was able to convert. A fortunate pass/stumble from Martinez saw Escobar with the perfect angle to the goal and tapping it in was all it took.  This was the Right Back’s first MLS goal and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Friendly Fire

Mccann vs. Chicago Fire
McCann vs. Chicago Fire http://www.usatoday.com

The Chicago Fire were able to remain level with ATL UTD as De Leeuw scored in the 24th minute but their celebration was short lived.

Chris McCann sent a cross in that took a deflection and ended up in the back of Chicago’s net. An own goal only 2 minutes after their first goal made sure Atlanta stayed on top.

The stars aligned and everything seemed to go Atlanta’s way this past Sunday as we remain atop of the Eastern Conference table (as well as tying the MLS point record). However, with the New York Red Bulls still only 1 point behind us, like they have been for the larger part of the regular season, the pressure is still on and it’s going to come down to the final week of action to see which team walks away with the highly coveted MLS Supporters’ Shield.

Arturo Principe | @ArturoPrincipe1