Atlanta United have earned only one point in their four league meetings all-time against the New York Red Bulls. And Atlanta GM Carlos Bocanegra knows that record may have to improve for the Five Stripes to go as far as they want in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Speaking on Atlanta sports talk radio show Dukes and Bell, Bocanegra made clear his desire for Atlanta to see the Red Bulls this postseason.
“In the playoffs I would like to face them again,” Bocanegra said. “They’ve had our number a little bit as of late so I wouldn’t mind facing them in the playoffs. I think that would be a good game. But you want to go through the best teams to win the championship eventually, and we can’t imagine that they won’t be there at some point down the road.”
While the two clubs are still battling for the Supporters’ Shield, they’ve both guaranteed themselves the top two spots in the Eastern Conference, meaning they will each have a first-round bye, and would not meet until the Conference Championship stage.
The Conference Championships are slated Nov. 25 and Nov. 29, and by then there may be some more clarity about the future of Atlanta coach Tata Martino. The former Barcelona, Argentina and Paraguay manager has yet to finalize a deal to remain with the Five Stripes following this season, and has been linked to several high-profile coaching jobs, most recently with the Mexico national team.
“There’s all kinds of rumors,” Bocanegra said. “For our coach, for our players, for everything. I guess that means we’re relevant in the soccer world at the moment, which is a good thing. Like I said, we’ve been having ongoing discussions. We can’t control the rumor mill and what goes on there but we’re doing our job. Tata is our manager, we’re going forward and we’re looking to go into the playoffs with the Supporters’ Shield under our belt.”
Should Martino move on, Bocanegra admitted Atlanta would be losing a manager who has bought into the club’s philosophy.
“We have a philosophy and a way of playing as a club and within that you try to put people in place that fit that style, fit that philosophy. And that’s where Tata fit nicely,” Bocanegra said. “It’s really the clubs that have a longterm vision, playing the younger players — and Tata has been great with that, he bought into that from day one. The Andrew Carletons, the George Bellos, the younger Designated Players that we were able to bring in and acquire, that was the philosophy of the club.”