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Know Thy Enemy: Return to the ATL Edition

Touchdowns don’t exist in soccer. The Revs have never allowed one and if we did we’ve blocked it from memory.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at New England Revolution Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Here at TBM, there’s a lot of things we don’t like talking about. Pretty much anything from the last several years is off limits with a few exceptions.

But we never, ever, ever bring up that 7-0 loss or bogus red card to Xavier Kouassi in Atlanta. Except of course when we have to play them because someone is always going to bring that up like that other 28-3 scoreline from that other sport.

As always we’re joined by Haris Kruskic of Dirty South Soccer to remind us of that touchdown the soccer team put up last year at MBS. Haris didn’t want to talk about my beloved Braves (who can’t score in the NLDS) or Eagles (because someone has to beat the Pats in the postseason), rightly choosing to focus on what are happier times currently in Atlanta sports. Be sure to check out my answers to Haris’ questions over on their site.

TBM: Tell me why Atlanta won’t score another touchdown on the Revs this weekend. Then tell me why they will.

HK: They won’t because Tata Martino has stated previously that he didn’t like how the score ended up getting as out of hand as it did during last season’s match. Martino really doesn’t enjoy embarrassing teams, as we saw earlier in the year when Atlanta was 4-0 up on Colorado in the 50th minute and then basically just put the match on cruise control the rest of the way through.

They will because Atlanta just lost a pretty important match to the New York Red Bulls and need to take out some frustration. They’re playing at home and want to rest the worries of fans at least for the moment. They always respond well after a loss.

TBM: There’s no question, just gush about native Providence Friar Julian Gressel.

HK: Taylor Twellman said it himself that he thinks Julian Gressel is Atlanta’s most important player. I’m not sure I agree with that, but it tells you just how impactful the German has been this season. Although it’s a little more archaic to play this way effectively, Gressel’s crossing ability is truly outstanding. The way he’s able to consistently put in dangerous crosses to Josef Martinez is one of the reasons the latter was able to break the scoring record for a season. His flexibility to play many positions has made him extremely useful when other players have been injured. One thing that’s amazing to me is that although Tito Villalba has had a good season and Ezequiel Barco came into the club after a $15 million transfer fee, Gressel has remained the one constant on the wings through and through. He’s great, man.

TBM: Atlanta will avoid the one-and-done round of the playoffs with a bye as a top two team, certainly this bodes well for them in November even if a playoff rematch with the Crew looms right? What lessons do you think Atlanta will remember from last year’s playoff exit and will it happen again?

HK: You have to take advantage of your scoring opportunities. That’s what cost us the match against the Columbus Crew last year and that’s what would make us stumble in the Conference Semifinals this season. However, I’m not too worried about that happening in the semis because I think we’ll get a lot of opportunities to score. I am however extremely concerned about going against RBNY in the conference finals, not creating a lot of chances, and not taking advantage of those chances we do create.

Lineup (3-5-2): Guzan, Pirez, Parkhurst, Escobar, Bello, Gressel, Larentowicz, Nagbe, Almiron, Villalba, Martinez

Injuries: Mikey Ambrose, Greg Garza, Sal Zizzo

Suspensions: Chris McCann

Prediction: 3-0 Atlanta