2. Strong individual performances
Josef Martinez. Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez. Franco Escobar. Hector Villalba.
These are the individuals that helped push Atlanta through to the MLS Cup Final. Each one played an important part in securing the all important berth along with so many other of Atlanta’s players.
Martinez, Escobar, and Villalba have the obvious accomplishments since each found the back of the net against Red Bulls during the first leg. Gonzalez-Pirez is the less sexy choice because he is back playing defense so much of the time. Yet none of these players’ performances can be understated.
Each goal in the first leg served as a catalyst for the eventual series win. Each tackle served an equal albeit less flashy role on the same journey. If it weren’t for the individuals on Atlanta United, the team wouldn’t have succeeded.
Amazingly, these performances don’t include other individuals on the team with strong performances of their own. Miguel Almiron was his usual energetic, team-killing self in this series. Darlington Nagbe had a strong hold on the midfield as usual, and both Jeff Larentowicz and Michael Parkhurst brought their MLS veteran experience to help seal the deal.