The suddenly-resurgent Union travel to Georgia for a clash with first-place Atlanta this Saturday.
If I’ve been overly-Philadelphian about this team in the past month, please forgive me. There’s eight years worth of soccer that urges me, nay, beseaches me to disbelieve this team could be good. Be that as it may, I’m starting to believe in this team, and the thing that could seal it would be a result in Atlanta tomorrow. If the Union (5-3-5, 18 points, 7th in East) can escape Georgia with a point against Atlanta United (8-2-3, 26 points, 1st in East), you can count me amongst the fully converted.
The Union have things going for them. The boys in blue have won three of their last four and are fresh off of their 3-1 win against Chicago, and have gotten points from four straight matches. Cory Burke looks fantastic in the striker role. Borek Dockal has settled in nicely. Andre Blake is still Andre Blake and is still in goal. The young defense has shown itself to be strong. But there are still causes for concern. David Accam still hasn’t shown the offensive touch for which the Union paid handsomely. C.J. Sapong seems lost. Mark McKenzie went out with a leg injury on Wednesday and his status is questionable. There are questions to be answered.
Atlanta has the most points of anyone in the league, riding a potent offense to be in line for the Supporters’ Shield. They are the highest scoring team in MLS with 27 goals; forward Josef Martinez has nine of them alone, good for the league lead. Setting the table for him are stars Miguel Almiron and Darlington Nagbe in the midfield. They are coming off of an away draw against New England that Atlanta captain Michael Parkhurst said “felt like a loss”. This team is for real, and this match is a real litmus test for the Union’s growth.
Last year, the Five Stripes smoked the Union 3-0 at home and drew them 2-2 in Chester.
Can the Union go into Atlanta and get a road result? I promise if they do, it’ll be the last time I pick against the U for a bit.
Atlanta United 2-Union 1