Atlanta's de Boer "wants to play with the strongest team" in Open Cup final

ORLANDO, Fla. – There’s a two-week break looming for Atlanta United in September. But head coach Frank de Boer doesn’t want his players thinking that far ahead.

With Tuesday’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final against Minnesota United (8 pm ET; ESPN+) up next, the Atlanta boss is looking to finish strong and on a high note.

“I want to play with the strongest team,” said De Boer on the upcoming stretch of games. “[But] I also look and see who is tired. We have good depth and can rotate. I will not hesitate to do that. We will see that against Minnesota.

“I just said in my pre-match meetings with the guys, don’t think about that,” he added. “If we aren’t ready, we will get injuries. If we are on the front [foot] we will get a good result.”

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Josef Martinez, who scored in his 12th consecutive game, said he was feeling tired heading into Friday’s 1-0 victory over Orlando City at Exploria Stadium, but credited a championship mentality for pulling through past Orlando, while also setting the focus on the upcoming USOC bout with the Loons.

“Yeah, we felt tired,” said Martinez through a translator. “I just said it to some of the guys, that I was feeling tired all day, even at the hotel just felt a little bit tired. But you can never underestimate the champion. So I had a few chances, could’ve scored more, but the most important thing is we got the win and now we have to get ready for a final on Tuesday.”

For Justin Meram – who made his second return to Orlando since leaving last season to rejoin Columbus Crew SC and eventually moving to Atlanta earlier this year – the next couple of days will serve as a recuperation period before playing for Atlanta's first-ever Open Cup title.

“Couple of days to recover … that’s three days,” said Meram. “All of Tuesday before the game. We have a good amount of time to recover and prepare for a trophy at home.”

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