Atlanta United overcame a tough obstacle in the form of New England Revolution in their opening round of this year’s MLS Cup Play Offs, triumphing 1-0 thanks to a 70th minute winner from Franco Escobar. However, though they were rarely threatened by the Revs, it was a similar tale of not taking chances when they fell for the current MLS Cup champions and head coach Frank De Boer will know his side will have tougher tests than this on their road to retaining their MLS Cup crown.
Atlanta were heavy favourites in most soccer betting markets going into their match up against the Revs, standing at -220 while their rivals came in at big outsiders at +550, though much of the game didn’t necessarily showcase this. Led by the experienced Bruce Arena, the Revs were able to counter most of Atlanta’s early exchanges and were successful in slowing the game down and restricting the fast-paced intense moments Atlanta have become infamous for over the past couple years.
However, that all changed when De Boer made the double change of introducing Florentin Pogba and Tito Villalba and changing from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 shape. The quality of this Atlanta side eventually shone through with Villalba, Barco and Martinez all causing the increasingly tired Revs defence more and more problems as the match wore on. Even legendary goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who made an incredible fourteen shutouts over the regular season, was on hand with a couple of crucial saves when the Revs did go through.
Ultimately Atlanta should have won this match, and they did. Whilst certainly not at their best and clearly frustrated at times, in the Play Offs winning is the most important thing and United have taken a big step in reclaiming their title with this win. De Boer’s side face off against Philadelphia on October 24th and are +700 in these soccer odds to win the MLS Cup again this year.