Atlanta United’s Road to the Final – in Photos

Atlanta United, only born as a club in 2017, havefast become the toast of the American soccer scene. Regularly drawing massive crowds to their Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they are now just one win away from holding both MLS Cup and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Led by the attacking prowess of Josef Martinez and Justin Meram, Frank de Boer’s team is a finely balanced squad of old campaigners like Michael Parkhurst, stars in their prime such as Darlington Nagbeand young up-and-comers like U.S. youth international Brandon Vazquez. Join for a look back (in photos) at Atlanta United’s run to a first-ever Open Cup Final and the brink of U.S. soccer history. 
Powerful and muscular, always a threat as a target-man, Brandon Vazquez was crucial to Atlanta United’s early stepsin the 2019 U.S. Open Cup. With regular striker Josef Martinez away at the Copa America, it was the U.S. youth international who picked up the mantle in attack in the Fourth Round and Round of 16.
Young Vazquez – who came up through the youth academy of Mexican side Tijuana – was in a rich vein of form early in the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. He scored twice in a come-from-behind overtime win over USL Championship side Charleston Battery in the Fourth Round (Atlanta’s first game of the tournament) and then two more in a rain-soaked Round of 16 contest against Columbus Crew on the road. 
Brandon Vazquez and Miles Robinson celebrate a goal in the topsy-turvy 3-2 result against Columbus Crew in the Round of 16. The game had to be halted at the start of the second half due to extreme weather and heavy rains in Ohio. 
The Quarterfinal stage saw Atlanta United pitted against the dangerous Cinderella second-division side Saint Louis FC – who had previously knocked out Chicago Fire and FC Cincinnati (both of Major League Soccer). In the end, Atlanta ran out comfy-enough 2-0 winners with goals from Pity Martinez and Josef Martinez (no relation). 
Atlanta United – reigning MLS champions – have been strong in attack on their run to the 2019 U.S. Open Cup Final. Here Josef Martinez (left – with one goal in the tournament), Pity Martinez (rear – with one goal as well) and Emerson Hyndman (right – also with a USOC strike to his name) stalk the Saint Louis FC goal in the Quarterfinal.
Josef Martinez puts the finishing touches on the Quarterfinal win over Saint Louis FC. His goal, late in the game and from the penalty spot, is his only tally so far during the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. 
Without an injured Josef Martinez leading the attacking line, the Semifinal on the road against Orlando City was always going to be a slog for Atlanta United. Here Emerson Hyndman and Pity Martinez prepare in the purple glow of Exploria Stadium’s tunnel. 
Former Dutch playing legend Frank de Boer is the architect of Atlanta United’s run to the 2019 Open Cup Final. Taking over from the wildly popular Tata Martino at the start of the current campaign, De Boer’s expansive tactics have begun to take root among players – and the wins those tactics produce have begun to win over skeptical fans too. 
Justin Meram – an elegant ball player – stepped up for the missing Josef Martinez in the Semifinal against Orlando. The Detroit-born Iraq international tormented City’s defenders and fans both, adding the attacking spark that Atlanta United needed to win 2-0 on the road and book a place in the club’s first-ever Open Cup Final. 
So often the unsung hero, U.S. international Darlington Nagbe has been outstanding for Atlanta United in their run to the 2019 Open Cup Final. He was in the wars in the Semifinal in Orlando and had to hold things together in midfield during a game that was more than a little testy at times.