Atlanta United face Indy Eleven in decisive Open Cup match

Indy Eleven challenges MLS giant in decisive duel
Atlanta United FC v New England Revolution
Atlanta United FC v New England Revolution / Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Indy Eleven travel to face Atlanta United in their first trip to the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. A historic achievement, no doubt. But what about Atlanta United? Are the MLS giants ready for this battle or will they be embarrassed by the fearless Boys in Blue?

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Indy Eleven, a team created in 2013, has been on a roll. With 30 goals scored in 15 consecutive matches in the USLC, they've hit the ground running. Can you imagine? No other team has managed to score so often this season. This overwhelming performance came to an end against Orange County on June 22, but it doesn't take the shine off the USLC's longest streak so far.

The Boys in Blue are a veritable scoring machine in the first half. They've scored 18 so far and, defensively, they've kept their opponents scoreless in 10 of the 17 matches in 2024. Impressive, right? What's more, they've gone 12 consecutive games unbeaten in all competitions, including an eight-game winning streak in the USL Championship, tied for fifth in league history.

On the other side, Atlanta United aren't far behind. To reach the quarter-finals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, they won two hard-fought victories. First, in the round of 16, they beat Charlotte Independence 3-0 without conceding a goal, thanks to a brilliant debut from goalkeeper Josh Cohen. Then they faced the Charleston Battery in the USL Championship. The match was decided on penalties, and Cohen shone once again, securing a historic victory for Atlanta United.

Now it's crunch time. Atlanta United are looking to bounce back from a series of defeats in the MLS. Long and tiring trips have resulted in poor results against New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake. Can they turn the tide against Indy Eleven?

Indy Eleven enter this contest with a respectable record. Tuesday will be the first meeting between the two clubs, and Indy Eleven are in third place in the conference, just one position below Atlanta's last opponents, the Charleston Battery. One detail that makes all the difference: this is a single-elimination competition. In other words, there's no margin for error. Every detail matters, every move can be decisive.

So what's the verdict? Atlanta United, with their winning record and inspired goalkeeper, have the theoretical advantage. But Indy Eleven, with their overwhelming attack and solid defense, aren't here to play. They want to make history and are ready to surprise. Will the MLS giant stumble?

If there's one thing we've learned in soccer, it's that the ball is round and anything can happen. The pressure is all on Atlanta United, who, in addition to dealing with expectations, need to recover physically and emotionally from recent setbacks in the MLS. On the other hand, Indy Eleven, with their underdog spirit, are going all out for glory. And it's exactly that spirit that could make the difference.

To reach the quarter-finals, Atlanta United also had their share of challenges. They beat Charlotte Independence 3-0 in the round of 16, with goalkeeper Josh Cohen making his debut for the club. In the next match against the Charleston Battery, Atlanta United secured victory on penalties, with Cohen saving Charleston's sixth attempt. They now face Indy Eleven, who are third in the USL Championship conference, just below the Charleston Battery.

The US Open Cup, the oldest soccer competition in the USA, is a golden opportunity for Indy Eleven to prove their worth against MLS opposition. Atlanta United, winners of the competition in 2019, are looking to regain their glory after a series of difficult games in the MLS. They lost to the New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake during the 4th of July week, and are now hoping to get back on track against Indy Eleven.

Apart from the soccer, Indy Eleven's presence in the quarter-finals of the US Open Cup carries greater symbolism. It's proof that USL Championship teams can compete at a high level and challenge MLS giants. This narrative inspires not only the players, but also the fans and the American soccer community. It's a reminder that sport is unpredictable and that talent can emerge from any corner, regardless of the size of the club or the league it plays in.

For Atlanta United, the challenge is to keep their composure and use their experience to overcome a determined opponent. The pressure is on their side, especially after recent setbacks in the MLS. They need a win to regain confidence and continue their US Open Cup journey. With talented players and a track record of success, Atlanta United have the tools to advance, but they can't underestimate Indy Eleven's resilience.