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Match Preview: Atlanta United vs Chicago Fire

After last week’s successful trip to Minnesota, Atlanta United returns to the ATL this weekend to face Eastern Conference opponents, Chicago Fire, and once again, the MLS expansion team will play in front of a sellout home crowd. Kickoff is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. ET at Bobby Dodd Stadium in downtown Atlanta and will be nationally broadcast on UniMás. For the first time, Univision will also be broadcasting the match on their Univision Deportes Facebook page via Facebook LIVE.

Atlanta United enters the match following a historic trip up North where they earned their first-ever victory in club history in six-goal fashion against fellow expansion side Minnesota United. Atlanta currently sits in third place in the Eastern Conference with three points from two matches, and just above them, their next challengers, Chicago Fire, who hold second with four points after a draw and a win in their first two competitions of the year.

Highlighted by a hat-trick and MLS Player of the Week performance from Venezuelan forward Josef Martinez, and a brace from the club’s number 10, Miguel Almirón, Atlanta United notched their first win last Sunday in a snowy encounter with the Loons. Despite the weather, ATL UTD looked strong and cohesive, continuing to execute Tata Martino’s fast and fluid style of play and establishing their identity in MLS.

It’s unlikely Atlanta United will make many adjustments in their starting lineup from last week. Although, we could see the return of Carlos Carmona, who was unavailable last match due to a red card suspension. Led by captain Michael Parkhurst and MLS Player of the Week, Josef Martinez, ATL UTD will try to carry the momentum and spark their first win streak against Chicago Fire.

After a string of difficult seasons over the last four years, Chicago has yet to qualify for playoffs since 2012 and finished their 2016 campaign at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 31 points, lowest in the league. However, that is all in the past and 2017 is a new year.

It’s been a busy offseason for Chicago to say the least, acquiring many new faces including LA Galaxy legend, Juninho, prolific Hungarian striker, Nemanja Nikolic, and long-time New York Red Bulls midfielder, Dax McCarty, who just received a call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Team ahead of their upcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. In addition, returning for the club is the team’s MVP and leading goal scorer for the past two seasons, David Accam, considered one of the best forwards in MLS.

Atlanta United will have their hands full with a new and improved Chicago Fire. Last go-round in Atlanta, the expansion side was impressive at times but gave up a late 1-0 lead, allowing a second half comeback from New York Red Bulls in their inaugural match. ATL UTD will try to avenge that initial defeat and give the fans another milestone to rally around as they search for their first-ever home victory and another three points.

Saturday’s matchup is sure to be an exciting one as it will be Atlanta’s second straight sellout, making them the first expansion side and the second-ever MLS club to reach 100,000 in combined attendance in their first two home matches. If you don’t have a ticket to match, don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to follow the action: