Even though Atlanta United threw away two leads in their 2-2 draw with FC Cincinnati, striker Giorgos Giakoumakis came away from the game feeling confident ahead of his team’s MLS Cup playoffs clash with Columbus Crew.
Few strikers have had a better first season in MLS than the Greece international, as he’s taken to life kindly with the Five Stripes with 17 goals in 27 appearances (21 starts). Even more impressive is the fact that injuries kept him from competing for the 20-goal threshold as well as not taking any penalties for Atlanta.
The ex-Celtic player showed his quality again vs Cincinnati, as his first half brace helped Atlanta take a point away from home in the final matchday of the 2023 regular season. Although teams don’t ever want to settle for a draw in most cases, Giakouamkis was still proud of his team following the game and has high hopes for what they can achieve going forward.
“Up until the moment of the red card, I think we destroyed them,” Giakoumakis said after the game. “We destroyed them up until that point. We created a lot more. We had control of the game. There was only one team on the field.
“Coming into the game, they were the champions (Supporters’ Shield), they are where they are because they were the best team this season, we have to accept that. So, coming into this stadium, playing against the first place team and to put together this kind of performance, we should be proud.
“We should take positive things from this game and apply them in the playoffs and compete at this same level.”
As his teammate Thiago Almada was shown a second yellow card in the second half of the game, the MLS MVP candidate is set to miss game one of Atlanta’s best-of-three series against Columbus Crew, a huge loss for the Five Stripes.
“It’s going to be tough without Thiago in the first game. We have a plan in our game and Thiago is a key player in that plan. So, we have to adjust again and figure it out and follow the directions from the staff.”
“We will go into it like a final. From now on, there are only finals,” he said. “I believe in my team. I believe we can make it to the next round. But we will go step by step, game by game, and the first game is at Columbus.”
Giakoumakis’ 17 goals in the regular season sees him tied for second-most in the league with Lucho Acosta and second-most by himself on minutes played with 1,791. LAFC’s Denis Bouanga took home first place honors with 20 goals for the current MLS Cup title holders.
“For all the difficulties I had this season, with it also being my first season in the team, with so many ups and downs this year, I’m proud,” the 28-year-old added. “I’m proud that I reached the amount of goals I did.
“Being that close, without even scoring one penalty, so at the end of the day I’m happy and proud. As I said a couple of days ago, I didn’t care about the Golden Boot anymore. The only thing I care about now is helping my team win.
“If it’s by making a slide tackle, in our box or anywhere, if that’s how I can help the team I will do that. It doesn’t have to do with goals anymore. Of course I want to score goals, but if I need to give an assist or give a pass and somebody else gets the assist and we win, I don’t care.”
The 2018 MLS Cup champions return to action on November 1 for their first game against Columbus Crew in the playoffs at Lower.com Field.
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