The Five Stripes gave Arthur Blank a spectacular birthday present by clinching a playoff spot with a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union, extending their unbeaten streak to seven matches overall and 12 matches at home. They are the first expansion team to qualify for the playoffs since the Sounders back in 2009. Needless to say, it was a special night in the ATL.
The first half started with a few chances that Atlanta were never able to capitalize on, but in the 27th minute, Julian Gressel broke through.
Not only did the goal open the scoring for the home side, but it also solidified Gressel’s position as the front-runner for Rookie of the Year. He recorded his 4th goal and then his 9th assist when he set Josef Martinez up for his 18th goal.
With four matches still left to play, Julian Gressel is just one assist away from tying the record for assists by a rookie. Martinez’ 18th goal of the season also puts him two goals away from the lead in the Golden Boot race, but he has his eyes on the championship. “I’m thinking about a championship. I can buy a golden boot in a store,” said Martinez when asked about his current position in the race.
The second half featured a few chances for the Union to get some back, but Brad Guzan had other things in mind. Because, well “He’s big, he’s tall, he’s a motherf****** wall.”
Jacob Peterson put the icing on the cake in the 88th minute.
It’s truly incredible to see the team handle teams the way they are despite the amount of matches they’ve played in such a short time period. Since their arrival at Mercedes Benz Stadium, the Five Stripes have outscored opponents by an astonishing number of 22-3 in only six matches. Simply stated, there is no team in the MLS that want to draw a match against Atlanta United come playoff time.