ORLANDO, Fla. — Frank de Boer knows what it means to lead Atlanta United to their first ever trip to the U.S. Open Cup final in his first year as head coach.
And after his side defeated Orlando City 2-0 on Tuesday night at Exploria Stadium, he was already hungry for his side to take one last step to win their second title in club history, and first under his watch.
“For the club it’s always important,” De Boer said. “You want to win every title, but also we play in our own stadium. Probably 75-74,000 people behind us, so it’s going to be a great happening.
“We will fight very hard for it and have to enjoy and the club will be very proud,” he added. “What I said, we fought like lions, but we still are hungry to get to one more game because second place doesn’t count. We have one game to go, [but] we are close to a title. ... This is a first step, so we have make another step.”
After a slow start to theseason, de Boer’s summer has been decidedly better than his spring. Atlanta are currently battling the Philadelphia Union for the top spot in the Eastern Conference while most recently, advancing to host the Open Cup final later this month against the winner of the other semifinal Wednesday between Minnesota United and the Portland Timbers (8 pm ET | ESPN+).
For Eric Remedi, who struck Atlanta’s first goal on Tuesday, the winning the 2018 MLS Cup doesn't take away from the desire to win the Open Cup this year. If anything, it's the opposite.
“The team is always motivated,” said Remedi. “It’s something positive to be in a final and in second place with a game in hand in the conference. We’re fighting from all fronts, which is important, but we wait anxiously for this final to win another championship.”
Playing without injured starting forward Josef Martinez, De Boer was pleased with his side’s performance, especially in the first half, saying Atlanta could have scored more had they finished their chances.
“I think if you see the first half, I think we were much better,” said De Boer. “We could have punished them more than 1-0, of course they had one very good chance. Overall, the first half was for us. Second half, they put a lot of energy. Of course, it’s very tiring, we’re up to three days playing again in this heat.
I give them compliments. They fought like lions, they defended like lions and also try to attack. We had opportunities and finally we had a relieving goal to score the 2-0 and then it was over.”