What up, folk ~
I don’t write much about sports because I’m from Atlanta and I don’t like to be depressed but some acts are born of necessity so I’m here today to help.
At around age 7 my parents responded to my request to play football by handing me a soccer ball and saying, “here, play this until you’re older and we’ll think about it.” Turns out that decision/denial turned me into quite the lifelong soccer nerd. I am certainly in the minority amongst most my friends which means that I do a fair share of explaining things regarding rules, lingo and, lately, playoff odds and ends. So instead of repeating the same information over and over again to my soccer novice friends, I’ll explain what has happened and what could happen going forward here in terms that an Atlanta fan can grasp by transcribing a conversation that I had with a soccer novice friend of mine.
So, Skrap, this Atlanta United thing, what’s going on?:
On Thursday, November 29 Atlanta United, also known as the last outpost of Atlanta sports hope for calendar year 2018, is playing in match 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Atlanta won Match 1 Sunday afternoon by a score of 3-0 here in Atlanta.
Cool, what does that mean?:
Well, it means we’re in pretty good shape going into the second game. How it works is that the team with the best aggregate (total) score over those two games will go on to host the MLS Cup Final on December 8. In simple terms think of Atlanta being up 3-0 at halftime right now with the second half being played in New York.
3-0 lead in soccer is pretty good, right?:
It’s awesome! Mainly because Atlanta didn’t give up a goal to New York in the first game. Visiting Team Goals (Away Goals) are the first tiebreaker in any regulation tie scenario. Say, for instance, the score here in ATL Sunday would have ended with Atlanta winning 3-1. Then in Game 2 on Thursday, New York wins in NY 2-0. The total for both teams over two games is 3-3 BUT NY would go to the Cup Final on the strength of that 1 goal they scored in Atlanta. Ugh.
But 3-0 is a really steep hill for a team to climb especially in a playoff scenario. That’s going to be tough to overcome.
Kinda like that 28-3 lead the Falcons had?:
I ought to slap the sh*t out you for even bringing that up. Say it again and I’mma take my tie off and strangle you with it. But, yes, the leads are similar respective of their sports. (pops a blood pressure pill)
A’ight, a’ight, my bad. Well, this all sounds good but how should I feel? Confident?:
Certainly! We’re in a good place but nothing is a done deal. But if you need directions on how you should feel I guess I can give you an outline
Best case scenario is that New York doesn’t score at all but they have the best record in the conference and shutting them out at home is a tall task so I wouldn’t bet on that. What you want to do is weather as much of the first half as possible. If they score an early goal in the first half and get some confidence you should worry a bit but you should still feel good. If they get another with maybe 20 minutes left in the game the Atlanta sports flop sweats should begin. You still have a one goal lead but you got an intense tight booty situation going on hoping they don’t get that third goal to tie on aggregate. Hopefully Atlanta scores just once more on Thursday night. An away goal, just one little score, would be a great piece of insurance.
You know who else could have used just one more little score in an important game?:
I swear I’m gonna choke you out, dude. Quit playing with me. (pops another blood pressure pill)
Okay, okay. But if Atlanta doesn’t score and they get three that would make it 3-3 total. Then what?:
Then you have to go into extra time.
Wow! Just like the Falcons in the Sup…:
Don’t you dare even finish that thought! You have to go into extra time which is two full 15 minute periods, no sudden death. You play them out full and whatever happens happens
And if you’re still tied after all that?:
Well, then the game is decided in the universe’s worst ever way to decide important games ever. Penalty kicks. Five kicks, or however many it takes until one of the teams misses, from the penalty spot 12 yards away taken by five different team members. The basketball equivalent would be deciding the NBA Finals by seeing which team can run the best layup line.
Well, if we come out on top after all that on Thursday then we play in the Championship game on December 8th at Mercedes Benz Stadium here in the good ol’ ATL. A one game winner take all match to lift the Anschutz Trophy.
Wow, hosting a Championship game in your home stadium. Wonder if another team in the city had aims to do that this year?:
**stares blankly before finally choking out a dear friend for testing my gangsta**
And there’s your quick crash course you beautiful soccer novices. Go find a bar here and scream for United. Print this out and take it with you if you have to. Whatever works. #VamosATL
Thinking about how great the late 80’s Hawks team would’ve been at the layup line tie breaker…sigh…..