Atlanta United began their U.S. Open Cup quest in Charleston, SC as they were supposed to face off against the Charleston Battery, but things did not go to plan that evening as United refused to play on the poor pitch and surface due to obvious injury concerns and other circumstances. Lets be honest, that field, from the images and pictures, looked in a pretty unfit and bad state to play a match on, even for a USL team like Charleston. They should still have average to above average pitch playing conditions and for those reasons the match was rescheduled to be played in Kennesaw where previous Cup games have been hosted. This match though would be played behind closed doors due to this unexpected change, numerous factors would come into play like security, concession and other concerns so there was no time for organizing any of that.
Atlanta and Charleston finally got things underway on Friday as things got off on the wrong foot for the 5-Stripes as Charleston found the opener in the 20th off a goal from Ian Svantesson. Charleston would maintain this lead going into the half and for most of the second half until the 79th minute when Jamaican international Romario Williams found the equalizer and after 90 minutes the result was 1-1 and the match would go into two 15 minute extra time halves. In the 110th minute Brandon Vazquez would score to make it 2-1 for United and then 10 minutes later in the 120th minute Vazquez would double his tally to seal the deal and give Atlanta United the 3-1 victory over the Charleston Battery for the 3rd year in a row in the U.S. Open Cup.
Atlanta’s next opponent in the round of 16 of the U.S. Open Cup will be the Columbus Crew. Atlanta look to get past the Crew as United have never made it past the round of 16 in the competition losing previous times to Miami F.C. in 2017 and to the Chicago Fire in 2018 and this year won’t be any easier against the Crew. The match is scheduled for this Wednesday June 19th at 7:00 P.M. at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus and will be available to watch on ESPN+.
Copa America is back! South America’s most exciting international tournament is in action as the host country of Brazil is set to host the 46th edition. Now for those who do not know much of the tournament or have never heard of it before, we’ll explain the basics in how it works and how everything unfolds leading up from the tournament starting at the beginning with the draw for group pairings and the all the way to the end when the Final takes place at the Estadio de Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
First, the 3 groups consist of 4 teams with 10 teams being from South America and 2 invited teams from across the world chosen by CONMEBOL. This year Japan and Qatar were chosen to participate in this years tournament. Once all teams play each other for a total of 3 games played, the top 2 teams in the group advance directly into the quarterfinals for a one legged affair while the third place teams will be determined for advancement by who has the most points or better goal difference. Out of the three, two will advance to the quarterfinals and one will be eliminated from the competition and all last place teams in the group stages are automatically eliminated.
The Knockout Stage matches are scheduled to last from the 27th of June beginning with the quarterfinals and all the way up to the final on July 7th.
In the knockout stage, if a match is tied after 90 minutes:
Quarterfinals: Extra Time is not played and the match goes directly to a penalty shootout.
Semi-Finals, 3rd Place and Final: Extra Time is played, where a fourth substitute will be allowed for each team.
If still tied after extra time, the match is decided by a penalty shootout. In terms of history of Copa America here are some interesting facts of the tournament since its foundation way back in 1916 over a hundred years ago. Chile are the 2 time defending champions having won back in 2015 in their home country and 2016 in the United States where they defeated their neighboring rivals of Argentina twice in both finals. Eight of the ten CONMEBOL national teams have won the tournament at least once in its 45 stagings since the event’s inauguration in 1916, with only Ecuador and Venezuela yet to win. Uruguay has the most championships in the tournament’s history, with 15 cups, while the current champion, Chile, has two cups. Argentina, which hosted the inaugural edition in 1916, has hosted the tournament the most times (nine). The United States is the only non-CONMEBOL country to host, having hosted the event in 2016.
On three occasions (in 1975, 1979, and 1983), the tournament was held in multiple South American countries. Since the 1990’s, teams from North America and Asia have also been invited to participate. Mexico’s two runner-up finishes are the highest for a non-CONMEBOL side.
Qatar will be making their debut appearance in the Copa America becoming the first Arab nation to play in the tournament, while Japan will be making their second appearance, their first since 1999.
This will also be the first Copa America to not feature any team from CONCACAF since teams have been invited; in particular, Mexico, which have competed in all ten editions since 1993 as an invited team, will not participate in this tournament. United States have competed in four tournaments, including the 2016 event as host.
For this years Copa America 2019 in Brazil, the slogan of the 2019 Copa América is “Vibra el Continente/Vibra o Continente” in which Spanish/Portuguese translate to “Rocking the Continent”. The mascot of the tournament is Zizito, a capybara whose name pays homage to Zizinho, the Brazilian footballer who shares the all-time goal-scoring record in the Copa America (17 goals with Argentine Norberto Doroteo Méndez). For viewing and watching all 26 matches in the United States they will be available to watch on ESPN and ESPN+ for English and Portuguese Commentary and Telemundo for Spanish Commentary.
The Gold Cup is back! CONCACAF’s most anticipated and exciting international tournament returns as the defending champions and co-host United States look to defend their title against the favorites and powerhouse of Mexico who look to retain the trophy of being CONCACAF’s best.
The tournament is primarily being hosted in the United States, with Costa Rica and Jamaica also hosting double-headers in the first round of matches in groups B and C, respectively. The United States are the defending champions, having won the 2017 tournament. With the abolition of the FIFA Confederation Cup, the CONCACAF Cup is annulled and the Gold Cup will not qualify the winner to a major tournament for the first time since 2009.
15 venues in the United States will host matches: Pasadena(Rose Bowl), Denver, Cleveland, Phoenix, Houston (2 venues), Charlotte, Philadelphia, Nashville, Chicago, Harrison, NJ, LA, Dallas, Minneapolis and Kansas City while the other venues of Kingston, Jamaica and San Jose, Costa Rica will host double header’s.
The tournament consists of 4 groups each having four teams, the top two finishing teams will advance to the knockout stage while the bottom two will be eliminated from the competition. Group Stage matches will take place between the 15th and 26th of June. In the knockout stage, if a match is tied after 90 minutes, extra-time is played, where a fourth substitute will be allowed for each team. If still tied after extra time, the match is decided by a penalty shootout.
Quarterfinals matches will take place between June 29th-30th, Semi-Finals matches between July 2nd-3rd and the final will take place at Soldier Field in Chicago on July 7th. The CONCACAF Gold Cup was founded in 1963 with the Mexico having won the most titles at 7 and United States the current defending champions with a total of 6 titles and Canada having won once back in 2000.
The CONCACAF Gold Cup will be available to view and watch in the United States on Fox Sports (FOX, FS1 Fox Sports GO) for English Commentary and Univision Deportes for Spanish Commentary.
This Friday, Atlanta United end their three game road trip in Salt Lake City as they get ready to take on Western Conference opponent Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium Friday at 9 P.M. ET which can be seen broadcasted live on the Univision Deportes Network or UniMas. Atlanta United look to get back to winning ways as their 5 game shoutout winning streak came to an end against eastern conference rivals New York Red Bulls on Sunday at Red Bull Arena. Real Salt Lake are coming off a big win at home vs. Toronto F.C. by a score of 3-0 and are on a two game win streak. Atlanta sits in 4th place of the Eastern Conference table with 20 points, one behind the Montreal Impact and four behind table toppers D.C. United and Philadelphia Union. United have games in hand against all teams so they still have a chance to climb up the top of the standings. RSL are 7th place in the Western Conference table with 16 points, so far most wins have come from opponents with losing records so not much too impressive, but after their dominating performance over Toronto F.C last week they will be a tough competitor to beat especially at home. All-Time Atlanta has had the edge over the Rocky Mountain team with two wins in two matches, one at Rio Tinto Stadium and one at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. With Copa America and Gold Cup approaching the question remains is how the team will be affected by the loss of players like Josef Martinez and maybe others, that’s what makes these next matches for United so important to get as many points as they can pick up against RSL, Minnesota United and the Chicago Fire, all teams are beatable but it is much easier said then done.
For the most part though, United will not be very busy in the month of June with only 3 total games scheduled. The first match in Atlanta vs. the Chicago Fire on June 1st, June 26th in Toronto and the third at home vs. Montreal June 29th. Atlanta has done a lot of traveling on the road so this long break might be useful for the team, even though we know some of our players will be off on International Duty. Tito Villalba will likely be out for this match as he picked up an injury on Sunday vs. the NYRB so that brings up the question of who will now replace him on the left side with him out for an uncertain amount of time and Barco off playing with Argentina in the U-20 World Cup. The answer will likely be either Dion Pereira or Justin Meram on the left attacking midfield position. Pereira has been very bright in the matches that he’s played in especially on the left side with his quick bursts of speed blowing past defenders and quality passing and dribbling efficiency. In my opinion, he should get the nod over Meram mainly because he deserves it and should get a chance in the starting team, this is Dion’s time now to show off what he’s got to his coaches and five-stripe fans. Most of the starting lineup should as well be the same from the last match with only one question being if Break Shea or Michael Parkhurst start at Left-Back and since Parkhurst played most of the last game on Sunday, Brek Shea will likely get the start over Parkhurst. Atlanta United will look to get a third straight win over Real Salt Lake and hope to get a statement victory at one of the most difficult and beautiful places in MLS. Trust me, if you have ever been there before Rio Tinto Stadium has a beautiful back drop of the Rockies especially in the spring or winter when there is still plenty of snow on them. Anyway like always, VAMOS UNITED!
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On December 30th, Atlanta United FC announced the signing of free agent Brek Shea. The 28-year-old will be used mainly as a wing-back and a replacement for Greg Garza. Shea could also be a leader for Andrew Carleton and help develop him on and off the field. The American has lots of experience playing as he has played overseas for Stoke City and has 31 apperances for the United States National Team. It is unsure if Shea will be a starter or a key player off the bench, but he will provide speed and pure athleticism.
Shea is a former MLS All-Star and was elected to the 2011 MLS Best XI. In 2010 he played in the MLS Cup but came up short. As Brek Shea joins his fourth MLS team this season and hopes to get back and win the cup in 2019.
This Sunday, Atlanta United get set to play their first Eastern Conference finals against the Supporters’ Shield winners, New York Red Bulls.
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.
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
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.
For the first time ever in Atlanta United history, the 5 Stripes move on to the Conference Finals of the 2018 MLS Playoffs.
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.
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.
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.