Two teams looking for their first win of the MLS season, collide as the Philadelphia Union visit Atlanta United FC. Both clubs need a good showing to quiet their fan’s early season discontent.
Union/Atlanta United FC Series History:
The clubs have met four times, with the Union only able to get one result, a 2-2 draw in their first meeting back on 8/26/17. The last meeting was a 2-Nil Atlanta win on 7/7/18 . In Atlanta the U are 0-2 with 1G to United’s 6.
Last Time Out:
The U are coming of a very frustrating 2-0 shutout at Sporting Kansas City, where despite earning a PK for the second week in a row, they still could not dent the score sheet, and have yet to score a goal in the run of play. Defending MLS Cup Champions, Atlanta further disappointed their spoiled fan base by giving up a late goal to expansion FC Cincinnati, for a 1-1 draw in their last MLS match.
Atlanta United FC Notes:
F Josef Martinez has been the only player to score for Five Stripes in league play, and that was in the 5′ of last week’s match. Atlanta will be playing their sixth match in 18 days, participating in four CONCACAF Champions League matches, losing in aggregate to Monterrey on 3/13. They have one player D Franco Escobar as out on their injury list, so they are otherwise at full strength.
The Union will be quite short-handed losing D Fabinho, F Kacper Przybylko, and F Sergio Santos to injury, as well as MF Marco Fabián to a Red Card suspension. This could look more like the 2018 Union except that maybe we could see the first start for Homegrown MF Brenden Aaronson who was in the 18 last week as a sub. Head Coach Jim Curtin during his Wednesday presser had this to say:
“I’m not scared to start him. You can talk about how tough it is to go to Atlanta, the environment, 60,000 fans, but once the whistle blows it’s still soccer and he’s comfortable and he’s shown that he can handle pressure, can handle tight spaces, can handle all the things you ask of a top MLS player.”
This is a tough one to call. On paper Atlanta would seem to have superior offensive talent, though they have not shown it thus far. Their having played so many early matches could be a factor, but then again so could the U’s losing four players for selection.
Unfortunately I see Atlanta in front of their large and loud fans having a bit more motivation to get them back on their side, so I will call this 2-1 Atlanta United FC, with them scoring early and late to cement the W.