Thursday night’s Eastern Conference-clinching performance was a night to remember, knocking out a team they’d never beaten to lift the first trophy in Atlanta United history. And while the Five Stripes squad celebrated the win, they know it’s just a step toward their ultimate goal.
“Ultimately we want to win MLS Cup,” Brad Guzan told reporters after the match. “This is just part of the journey to get to MLS Cup, to get to a final. All of our hard work throughout the season now allows us to host the final, that is important and doesn’t go un-noticed, so now we put ourselves in a position to hopefully go and raise a trophy in our home city.”
To win MLS Cup is the ultimate goal for any team in this league, but to compete for it in front of their home fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is something the players aren’t taking for granted.
“I don’t know what to expect, something that is going to top last obviously,” said Brad Guzan. “The fans have been tremendous for us and we can’t be any more appreciative than we are. To be able to host a final, to be able to hopefully give them an MLS Cup, it should be a special night.”
And judging by the atmosphere the 17’s have created in the past, the players know to expect a special home field advantage from the rowdy and proud this time around.
“I feel like I have said it after a lot of games that is just keeps on getting louder and louder in our stadium,” captain Michael Parkhurst said. “The last game against the Red Bulls was the loudest by far that I have ever seen and I expect it to be even louder for the MLS Cup game. They just keep out-doing themselves, our support is amazing. We cant wait to play in front of you next weekend.”
When asked about the championship drought the city of Atlanta has had to endure, he said he hopes they can be the one to turn those fortunes around.
“Hopefully we can change that,” he said through a translator. “That's the only thing I want to say is hopefully we can change it and that history doesn't go on like that for too much longer. Regardless of the score, it's been important to play in front of those people.”
It’s been an incredible season already, both on the field and in the stands, for Atlanta United. But as amazing as it’s been have been all year long, this trophy will be won on the field, not in the stands. And Greg Garza says the team knows the fans will do their part, and they’re ready to do theirs.
“I can’t wait for what the city will have to bring. The last game against Red Bull at home was unbelievable, everyone involved, so I think we’re hoping for something like that again. But the rest is our job. We’ve done tremendously well these past two years, as I said before, it’s something new for all of us. I think the city of Atlanta has really taken us in with open arms. The project that they presented to all of us two years ago was something so good, we didn’t know it was going to take us this far. So, we are very proud of that, we’re headed home and hopefully we can finish it off this week.”
Atlanta United will compete for their first MLS Cup next weekend at 8pm EST Saturday December 8th at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Limited tickets are still available, so make sure you’ve reserved yours here.