U.S. Open Cup final preview: Atlanta United vs. Minnesota United
The battle of two Uniteds will take place during the U.S. Open Cup final Tuesday, August 27, when Atlanta United and Minnesota United fight for the tournament trophy at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Find out who will win the Cup for the first time below.
|Atlanta United||Draw||Minnesota United|
Atlanta has been red hotAtlanta United enters the match having played extremely well across all competitions the past two months. The club has shot up to a tie for first in the Eastern Conference standings and has been nearly unstoppable at home. Even while balancing a trip to rival Orlando City over the weekend, Atlanta should be at full strength and ready to challenge for another trophy.
Josef Martinez has scored in 12 straight league matches and will be counted on to score again. Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco will also be called upon to help create offense. The question will be the defense and whether it can play on tired legs and not let Minnesota create scoring opportunities.
Minnesota must protect the midfieldMinnesota United has had an up-and-down form of late, but has put all its resources into attempting to win the franchise’s first trophy. The club rested a few players Thursday night against Sporting Kansas City, and will have to travel to Atlanta to pull off the upset. To do that Minnesota's players will have to protect the midfield and be professional with the ball at their feet. Guys like Osvaldo Alonso and Kevin Molino will need to be physical and allow others, like Thomás Chacón and Darwin Quintero, to move freely.
The keys on defense will be Chase Gasper and Ike Opara. If they can shut the Atlanta offense down, that will only make the Loons more confident they can win.
Prediction: Atlanta wins 2-1Minnesota United has done well to arrive at their first Cup final, and is certainly going to be excited to try and bring the U.S. Open Cup home. However, Atlanta has been in a couple finals recently and knows the pressure of playing for a trophy at home. Josef Martinez will be too much, as the Five Stripes win a third trophy in nine months by a 2-1 score (+750).
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