New York City Football Club travels to Georgia on Sunday to face Atlanta United.
For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to Atlanta United host and sideline reporter, and one half of The Call Up Podcast, Jillian Sakovits.
Hi Jillian thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been working for Atlanta united?
Yeah, so this is the team’s sixth season, my fifth. It's going to put a bow on what was a really great run working for that team.
And what would you say has been your highlight during that period?
Highlight on the field is the 2018 MLS Cup. That was my first season and Atlanta could not stop breaking records whether it was attendance or, Josef Martinez, or it was scoring. But my personal highlight would have to be the people. The fans, treat you like you're part of their family even if they have or haven’t ever met you. The fans have always made me feel like I'm doing something meaningful every day we walk out there and lastly, of course, the people you get to work with, whether it's Mo Edu, Kevin Egan, Dan Gargan, or all the people behind the scenes.
How would you evaluate the 2022 season for Atlanta United?
2022 is not what anybody signed up for; be it the fans, the players, or the club. First, you had the injuries and I know people are tired of hearing about the injuries but I think that you're tired of hearing about the injuries because there were so many. At one point the team had if they looked at what their best 11 was, seven of them missing.
So when you go out and you make big signings, especially on offense, you expect goals, and Atlanta United this year was not that type of team. Again, you could you can blame injuries and such and defensively they weren't what they were, but regardless of the injuries, this is still a roster that I think should have made the postseason. I know Atlanta United would feel exactly the same; their goal this year was to make the playoffs.
What do you anticipate in terms of being the deciding factor on Sunday's game?
I think how this team wants to be remembered this year will ride a lot on Sunday's game.
NYCFC are the reigning champions, they knocked Atlanta United out of the playoffs last year. There's going to be a lot to play for. Of course, there are always jobs to play for but for Atlanta United this is their last chance to send the fans off with a smile on their face before they see them next year and I know personally that’s enough for most of these players to get up for - the fact that they can send some people happy out of Mercedes Benz stadium on Sunday because nobody attending that game thinks that they're going to the playoffs. They're going there to see a quality 90 minutes.
And if you were to identify a danger man for Atlanta, who would it be?
It's a really good question. I hate to say it, but I think in a year where so much has happened I think every person is going to be trying to put their best performance out there.
All eyes are going to be on Josef Martinez just based on who he is and the way that the season has gone for him. I also think that other guys, in this moment of not having that superstar, other guys have emerged as fan heroes like Andrew Gutman deserves a ton of credit for what he's done. That it's given an opportunity for other people to rise.
If any of our fans are down in Atlanta, maybe they're taking it in Atlanta United game, are there any spots or places you would suggest they check out?
My go-to is Bar Margot, in the heart of midtown, with great cocktails and a great burger, and the occasional celeb sighting. For me, I was lucky enough to have a Charles Barkley run-in there that will go down as a top life moment for me. Closer to the stadium - look up the phone booth bar for something secret and again, great cocktails.