3. Will Atlanta show up on the biggest stage?
Short answer: Yes… so far.
Long answer: Atlanta teams have a horrible history on sports’ biggest stages. I highlighted this fact when outlining what Atlanta needs to do to win a trophy. The best words to describe Atlanta’s chances heading into the semifinal series: cautiously optimistic.
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Atlanta fans will always have doubts, but so far the Five Stripes are showing in these playoffs that they can hang in even the biggest situations. Playing on a small pitch against a team that dominates on said small pitch? Not a problem for Atlanta, who won 1-0. Playing in front of 70,000 fans with a lead and the pressure of advancing to the next round? Also not a problem for Atlanta, who won 3-1.
Almiron and Martinez are the team’s biggest stars, so, naturally, they brought the biggest shine during the return leg. Martinez slotted home yet another penalty, Almiron dazzled with a beautiful free kick, and Martinez scored another goal on a classic Atlanta break away.
So yes, Atlanta is showing up… so far. The team has a horrible history against Red Bulls, who they face in the next round. Atlanta also struggled in their final regular season match, a game in which they had the opportunity to win the Supporters Shield.
The Five Stripes tend to fall on their faces in the biggest moments. Yet in these playoffs, so far so good.