Atlanta United takes home the trophy after a phenomenal season


USA Today

Atlanta United celebrates after defeating the Portland Timbers 2-0, on Dec. 8, to claim the MLS title.

Charlie Mark, Staff Writer

The Major League Soccer season has come to an end this past week.  After an entertaining regular season and playoffs, it was Atlanta United FC that won the MLS cup for the first time in franchise history.  Atlanta had been the second best team in the regular season, trailing the New York Red Bulls by one game.  In addition, Atlanta had Josef Martinez, who was voted as the league MVP this past season.

“The Atlanta United were so dominant this season led by MLS MVP Josef Martinez and their fan base,” said sophomore Kyle Sinett.  “They were able to sell out Mercedes Benz stadium for a lot of games.  Atlanta United is the only team in the MLS where the atmosphere around them is similar to that of a team in Europe.”  

The Atlanta United seated 73,019 people in their championship game against the Portland Timbers, which set a MLS record for attendance in a championship game.  The Portland Timbers, led by Diego Valeri, had a regular season record of 15-10, establishing them as underdogs going into the playoffs.  They had trailed FC Dallas, Los Angeles Football club, Seattle Sounders FC, and Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference.

However, the playoffs are a new season for teams, which can ignite success from the least likely of teams.  On their way to the Championship Game, the Timbers defeated FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders FC, and Sporting Kansas City.  For Atlanta, they swiftly defeated New York City Football Club, New York Red Bulls, and eventually the Portland Timbers.  Atlanta United had led the league in goals with a remarkable 79 this past season, which further established them as the premier team in the league.  Behind them were Kansas, and Los Angeles Football Club.  Atlanta shocked the world by winning the championship.  

“We’re definitely aware of it,” said goalkeeper Brad Guzan of Atlanta’s sports history.  

They had certainly enriched themselves into the sports history of Atlanta.   

“We know about it.  We hear about it.  This was not just for us as a team, as a club, as an organization.  It was for the city of Atlanta.  It was for the state of Georgia.  We know we’ve got a couple of bigger causes,” said Guzan. 

In the final, Martinez was named the finals MVP, with a goal and an assist.  Martinez will be a free agent this off season, which could potentially shake things up in Atlanta.  He is currently on a million dollar contract, and it will take a lot for Atlanta to resign him.  Will he go after the money, or stay in the successful situation he is in now?  This is a dilemma that faces most superstar athletes in today’s world.  

Teams that will be vying for the championship next season will be Dallas, Kansas City, the Red Bulls, NYCFC, Seattle, Portland, and of course Atlanta.  While these may be just the main contenders, every team will be making adjustments and improvements to try and win the coveted MLS cup.  For keepers, the players that make the most difference are Andre Blake of Philadelphia Union, Luis Robles of the New York Red Bulls, David Bingham of the San Jose Earthquakes, and Stefan Frei of the Seattle Sounders.  

For the center backs, Chad Marshall of the Seattle Sounders, Laurent Ciman of the Montreal Impact, Matt Hedges of the FC Dallas, and  Jelle Van Damme of the LA Galaxy are looking to be the best in the game come 2019.  As for the strikers, the best in the game is considered by many to be Bradley Wright-Phillips of the New York Red Bulls.  Phillips had 20 goals and seven assists this past season.

Overall, it was an entertaining past season.  Atlanta broke barriers for the MLS that will attract it a lot more fans.  The future is exciting for the MLS as Atlanta has officially put it into the mainstream.