Atlanta United’s incredible season has had countless memorable moments, from spectacular goals to incredible comebacks, and time after time, unforgettable nights at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But now is the match the team has been playing for all year, MLS Cup, and it’s taken even more from the team to make it past two tough postseason opponents. Here are the five moments that stood above the rest:
Eric Remedi takes the lead in NYC
With Atlanta United starting the postseason on the road in a tough venue at Yankee Stadium, the Five Stripes needed a big performance to get past a formidable opponent in NYCFC. Road goals are so valuable in a two-leg format, and Eric Remedi had never scored before in his entire professional career –– but what a time to get your first. Josef Martinez’s vicious volley could only be parried back to the goal line, and Remedi acted quickest to poke home the eventual game-winner and get the red, black and gold’s postseason run off to a perfect start.
Miguel Almirón’s free kick stunner
Eric Remedi’s goal on the road and Josef Martinez’s penalty to open the scoring in the return leg at Mercedes-Benz Stadium put the team on the right track. But after a deflected free kick found its way past Brad Guzan and into the Atlanta United net, the game was suddenly back in the balance at halftime of the second leg. Then up stepped the Paraguayan #10. After being dragged down in a bursting run toward the NYCFC goal, he curled an unstoppable free kick over the wall and in, relieving the pressure and extending the Five Stripes lead.
Atlanta United’s incredible support
Atlanta United came into the Eastern Conference Final on a high after beating NYCFC home and away the week before, but their next opponent was a team they had never been able to beat before. But Atlanta United’s fans showed before the first minute that this week wasn’t going to be like anything else before, with an incredible pre-match display that left the players –– and the world watching –– dazzled. It was all the start of an incredible atmosphere that the rowdy and proud fans will be hoping to replicate this weekend at MLS Cup.
Tito’s stoppage time golazo
Pushed on by that incredible home support, Atlanta United put on a commanding performance against the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Final. Josef Martinez and Franco Escobar each got on the score sheet during regular time, giving the Five Stripes a two-goal cushion leading into the second leg. Heading on the road to Red Bull Arena holding onto a two-goal lead would have put the team in a strong position, but a third all but put it out of reach. It was Tito Villalba providing the spark off the bench, cutting onto his left foot and curling an unstoppable low finish past Robles in the Red Bulls goal. It was the goal that all but sealed the matchup.
The defensive stand
As good as a three-goal lead is after one leg, you can’t waste that advantage in leg two. But heading to a stadium where they’d never won before against the team with the best regular season record of all time, the team still had plenty of work to do. But they were ready for that work, putting in a dominant defensive performance that left the Red Bulls struggling for half-chances all match. By the time New York broke through, it was too late with the ref’s whistle coming just minutes later, clinching Atlanta United’s spot in MLS Cup.
Atlanta United fans will be hoping that there are plenty more memories in store with the team’s first MLS Cup on the line this Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8pm EST, with the match broadcasted on FOX and UniMas. Limited tickets are still available, so make sure you get yours here.