Gressel: Team fully focused on Supporters' Shield

Atlanta United not looking ahead to MLS Cup

Wendy Adams
August 22, 2018 - 9:52 am

© Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports


Atlanta United is back in the driver's seat in the Supporters' Shield after a 3-1 victory over Columbus Crew on Sunday. Now three points ahead of the NY Red Bulls and four ahead of NYCFC in the Eastern Conference, United will look to keep their foot on the gas against conference rival Orlando City SC this weekend.

Midfielder Julian Gressel joined John Fricke and Hugh Douglas and said the team's only focus is winning the Supporters' Shield:

"The playoffs will come no matter if we win the Supporters' Shield or not; and then you still have a chance at the [MLS Cup>. But we want to get that first one, first. We want to have home advantage throughout the playoffs, ending with the MLS Cup. That would be an amazing event here in Atlanta. We want to be first. We want to be the best team in the league... Right now, we're fully focused on the Supporters' Shield."

All eyes will be on striker Josef Martinez as he'll get his first opportunity to break the MLS single-season goal record in their rival's stadium. Martinez tied the record, scoring his 27th goal of the season, on Sunday in a 3-1 win over Columbus Crew.

"I think it's just going to come naturally. I don't think we even have to focus on that because our playing style suits him perfectly...[Josef's> not even worried abotu it too much. We have nine games left; he's going to score another goal."

The last time these two teams met in Orlando, it ended in a 2-1 Atlanta United victory. It also proved the magnitude of the rivalry between these two teams, or at least among the two teams supporters.

Gressel said it's important to keep their play and what the fans do during the game "separate:"

"I think we have to focus on our performance, on our quality on the day. If we bring that, I think there will be no question of who the better team is and who comes out with the win; ultimately give our fans the victory they deserve. Then we'll see how the fans react this time."