US Open Cup

Four thoughts on Atlanta's 2-1 Open Cup triumph over Minnesota United

Atlanta has won yet another trophy - this time with hard fought victory over Minnesota at the U.S. Open Cup. ASN's Brian Sciaretta gives his four thoughts on the game. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 28, 2019
7:00 PM
ATLANTA UNITED defeated Minnesota 2-1 on Tuesday night to win the 2019 U.S. Open Cup. After winning MLS Cup in December and the Campeones Cup earlier this month, it is the third trophy inside of nine months the Five Stripes.

The result of the game was not a surprise, but the way in which it played out was. Atlanta came out on fire and score two quick goals early – first with an own goal from Chase Gaspar and the second from Pity Martinez. But just when logic would suggest that Minnesota would roll over at that point, down by multiple goals in a hostile environment and with the regular season still looming large, the Loons instead rallied.

The deficit was cut in half early in the second half with a goal from Robin Lod. Minnesota would continue to keep up the pressure and when Atlanta’s Leonardo Gonzalez Perez was sent off with his second yellow in the 74th minute, it was all Minnesota. Minnesota had one golden chance to equalize in stoppage time but a close range shot was flubbed by Michael Boxall.

Atlanta would indeed hang on and celebrate yet another piece of silverware in its first U.S. Open Cup. The win also ensured that Atlanta would play in the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League.

Here are four thoughts on the game

Martinez’s growth has been impressive

Pity Martinez was mostly disappointing in his first few months with Atlanta. He didn’t get along with Frank de Boer and wasn’t a good fit. He was visibly angry when he was subbed off. He was critical in the press – especially when speaking to Argentine media.

But over the past six month, Martinez has plated exceptional soccer. He has lived up to the expectations that come with being named the South American Player of the Year. The once boring approach of de Boer is starting to open up and result in goals and Martinez is a big part of that.

In the final against Minnesota, Martinez didn’t just score the big second goal, he brought a ton of enthusiasm to the game and his teammates fed off of it.

With Martinez playing this well, Atlanta is once again the team to beat in the East and one that might have a fighting chance against Los Angeles FC in a potential MLS Cup.

Atlanta responded to de Boer

The All Star game was an ugly time for Atlanta. Gonzalez Perez was with the all star team in Orlando and was critical of the team’s approach under de Boer. After the break, de Boer responded that good teams don’t air their dirty laundry in public.

Since de Boer’s response, everything changed. Atlanta players have kept their mouth shut and have responded on the field in playing up to their talent level – not playing down. It was a moment where everyone realized they needed to grow up.

The team has since responded well under de Boer and is playing very dominant soccer without using the media to reveal inner turmoil.

Robinson continues strong run

Former Philadelphia Union and current Austin Bold midfielder Amobi Okugo posed an interesting question following the game on Atlanta United central defender Miles Robinson.

Robinson, 22, is rumored to be receiving his first U.S. national team call-up for September while also being eligible for the U.S. U-23 team. The Massachusetts native was once again a strong presence for Atlanta in the Open Cup win and has been frequently receiving praise from de Boer.

But to answer Okugo’s question, I believe no. I don’t think Tata Martino would have had the patience to work with Robinson the way de Boer has. Robinson played just 360 minutes last season under Martino. But under de Boer, Robinson is an every-game starter with 2348 minutes under his belt, so far. At 6’2”, he brings size and a physical edge. He needed to have a coach who showed patience in his passing out of the back, and de Boer has given him that.

If the rumors are true and Robinson gets a U.S. call-up, it will be deserved. Still, it will hard to see him not shifting to the U-23s next year for Olympic qualifying because he’s likely a starter on that team and still probably a third stringer on the full national team with everyone healthy.

Minnesota had a strong showing

Minnesota will be disappointed to not get the win, or at least force extra time, but the team should be proud of its performance. This game was further evidence of just how far Minnesota has improved since last year. Management has added key players, other young players have stepped up, and the result is a team that could make a run in the playoffs in the West.

Adrian Heath is doing a very good job. A team that is not well coached would have collapsed after conceding two early goals in Mercedes Benz Stadium. Sure, it was puzzling that Darwin Quintero didn’t earn the start against Atlanta, but it still had all the chances it needed to get a result. It didn’t finish, but it was a gutsy performance on the road. Most of the time that effort wins. But who would want to face this team in the playoffs?

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