To be honest this is what everyone was hoping for on the final day of the 2018 MLS regular season schedule. The hope and the suspense will be absolute murder when the New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United will both kickoff within their own games at the same start time for the chance to win the 2018 Supporters Shield.
This seaon has been a fantastic ride for the New York Red Bulls as they have broken records on wins and total points in club history. 33 matches have already been played with the 34th that will start at 4:30PM EDT - 1:30PM PDT as playoff positioning is still up for grabs, but for two sides that have already played each other twice this season will go after a trophy.
The Red Bulls will finish their home schedule and the regular season taking on an Orlando City side that has been in poor form and bad luck since the beginning of the season and when it looked like they might have found a cure in a seven goal explosion win over the Red Bulls in April at the purple palace on Church Street, they couldn’t regain that winning feeling.
But of course you know that former Red Bulls Captain and midfielder Sacha Kljestan wants to try and end the hopes and dreams for his former club this coming Sunday, we shall see what he will do when he gets back to Red Bull Arena.
On the other side there is Atlanta United who has a solid core of talented players from South America and within their short but strong academy system, as they have been tearing down the walls and torching the nets every single time they get close to the oppositions area.
Josef Martinez, Ezequiel Barco, Julian Gressel and many others have been doing the job and attacking well to earn the points necessary to get into winning situations, but with Miguel Almiron out for the final match on the road in Toronto can be a bit hairy.
While re-watching the match between the Red Bulls hosting Atlanta at Red Bull Arena ESPN Soccer Analyst Taylor Twellman gave an interesting stat that might be useful for the Red Bulls as they are home to Orlando City.
In the nearly two years Atlanta United has been in the league, the two sides and visiting stadiums they have had current trouble playing against are the Red Bulls and away at Red Bull Arena. They have also had issues with Toronto FC at BMO Field.
So while Toronto FC won’t have Jozy Altidore and it is the last match of the regular season, you can bet that the home side wants to give their fans a win as a lasting memory to end a horrible 2018 season.
Let’s also not forget that Head Coach Tata Martino will be leaving the club after their run in the playoffs, so that could also play on the minds of the players if they do trip up against Toronto FC.
But once again the scenarios are simple. The Red Bulls must win on Sunday to force things on Atlanta United. If the Peach State club earns a draw or a loss, then the Shield returns to Red Bull Arena. But if the Red Bulls lose or draw or an Atlanta win will give the second year club their first hardware in MLS.
So what we want to see is a full, sold out Red Bull Arena on Sunday afternoon at 4:30PM as decision day will force everyone to keep one eye on the Red Bulls while the other eye will be on Atlanta United. This is what the league wanted and it will come down to those final ninety minutes before the 2018 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs get underway within the next couple of days.