Atlanta United defeated New York Red Bulls 3-0 in the first leg of the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Goals from Josef Martinez, Franco Escobar and Hector Villalba settled the differences between the sides to provide The Five Stripes with a comfortable advantage heading into the second leg.
The 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals second leg contested between Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls takes place inside the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ on November 29.
The winner of the Eastern Conference Finals showdown will face the winner of the MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Finals contested between Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City.
FOX Sports Radio 96.9 FM/1340 AM’s Dean Perretta briefly caught up with 2018 MLS All-Star and Atlanta United sensation, Miguel Almirón, to discuss The Five Stripes prospects of being crowned 2018 MLS Cup champions, as well as the talented Paraguay international’s perspective on Atlanta United’s record-setting MLS attendance breaking at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium this season and Gerardo Martino being named as 2018 MLS Coach of the Year.
Dean Perretta: Firstly Miguel, Atlanta United faces New York Red Bulls in the MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. What are your overall thoughts on the club’s performances thus far in the MLS Cup Playoffs?
Miguel Almirón: The win against New York City was very important for us. But (we) haven’t won anything yet. We have difficult opponents to play. Now we have a Conference Final and we’re preparing for that. We just have to keep playing our game, be patient and keep pressing. I think (New York) Red Bulls is a difficult opponent but we have to keep playing our game and we’ll see what happens.
Dean Perretta: Do you feel that Atlanta United could potentially be crowned 2018 MLS Cup champions?
Miguel Almirón: Yes, it’s a beautiful opportunity for us to give that joy to the people of Atlanta. I think the team has already made history in every sense but that’s what is missing. We’re calm, we’re working hard and hopefully God willing we’re able to achieve it, which is what all the players and fans want.
I think it would be very important to win MLS Cup for the way that we’ve been working and the effort we’ve made all year. But we have to be calm. As I’ve said, we haven’t won anything yet. There are still games left but it would be something special for the club and for us.
Dean Perretta: Atlanta United’s Head Coach Gerardo Martino was most recently named 2018 MLS Coach of the Year. How would you describe your relationship with Martino and, of course, the positive influence which he has had on you as a professional?
Miguel Almirón: I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything with a coach like I have with Tata (Martino) during these two years, and I don’t know if I will. Tata is a very good person. He comes up to you and asks you how you’re doing. I think that’s very good for a player. It’s important to feel that trust from the coach that he has towards us. We’re going to miss him a lot, not just those who are with him on the field every day but also everyone in Atlanta.
Tata means a lot to me. He’s a great coach and great person and I wish him the best in the next stage of his career.
Dean Perretta: The Mercedes-Benz Stadium attendance records at Atlanta United games this season have been highly impressive and have recently surpassed attendances at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge. What does it mean being an important part of The Five Stripes ascension and growth as a powerhouse in MLS?
Miguel Almirón: What we’re experiencing is something very beautiful. It’s an amazing stadium. We like it a lot and feel very comfortable there. And we’re going to try to work to bring another joy to the fans.