Atlanta United’s de Boer: ‘We are eager to win this prize’

The trophies are the thing for Atlanta United.

Atlanta United can win its third if it defeats Minnesota in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Five Stripes already won last season’s MLS Cup, and then defeated Club America two weeks ago to take the Campeones Cup.

“It'd mean a great deal,” midfielder Julian Gressel said. “You want to be a winning club. I want to be a winning player. At the end of my career, I want to look back and be like 'yeah, I've won a good amount of trophies.' And you're in a final, so no better opportunity than that to win the third one in three years for the club is huge.”

Manager Frank de Boer, who won at least 15 trophies as a player at Ajax and Barcelona, supported Gressel’s statement.

“I think, as a young player and as a football player, you want to win games but at the end, when you finish your career, you want to see what you’ve won, what you did with your football career,” he said. “This is one of them. You want to have something on your list. We are eager to win this prize.”

The prestige of this tournament is very different than the Campeones Cup, which just finished its second year.

The U.S. Open Cup is the oldest continuously run soccer tournament in the U.S. with this season being the 106th edition. This year’s tournament started in May with 84 teams competing to win the Lamar Hunt Trophy.

Atlanta United advanced by defeating Charleston, Columbus, St. Louis and Orlando City. Minnesota’s path was tougher. The Loons advanced by defeating Sporting KC, defending champs Houston, New Mexico United and Portland.

The winning team will receive a bonus of $300,000, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and a berth in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League.

“We don’t want to forget,” de Boer said. “It’s one of our objectives. We always want to be part of CONCACAF. That’s already settled if we win this one so that’s important.”

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Among the MLS teams that have won an MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield, U.S. Open Cup or Campeones Cup, Atlanta United with its two trophies has already passed established clubs such as Colorado (1), Portland (1) and Real Salt Lake (1). Two trophies has tied it with Toronto (2) and New England (2, which includes the defunct SuperLiga). A third trophy would move the team into a tie with Dallas, Houston, the New York Red Bulls and San Jose.

“That’s our standard as Atlanta United,” de Boer said. “They started this because they want it to be a major impact on MLS. They already did it. They want to continue like that.  That’s winning 2-3 titles a season. That is what you want as a club.”

Gressel and de Boer said winning the U.S. Open Cup would likely rank as the second most important, behind the MLS Cup because every team wants to win its league. But that ranking shouldn’t diminish its importance.

“It's just a different one,” Gressel said. “It's the most historic one, obviously, in the U.S., so it's one that you'd like to have. There's some really good teams that have won that trophy before and we want to be one of those.”