Atlanta United (8-3-2) are looking to get back into the win column this weekend as they host the Philadelphia Union (5-5-3) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Five Stripes are trying to remain the pace-setters at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings while the Union attempt to continue their run up the table with their fourth win in five weeks. It’s a must-watch Eastern Conference matchup, here are the players Atlanta United will have to keep a keen eye on this weekend:
One of Philadelphia’s primary offseason acquisitions this season was David Accam, one of the most productive wide players in MLS over the past few seasons. While he’s struggled to get on the scoring sheet so far this season, his electric pace and ability on the dribble is the perfect compliment to his counterpart on the other side of the field, Brazilian winger Ilsinho, a crafty player who's capable of slowing the game down and finding the killer pass. It’s an interesting one-two punch that can be dangerous for any defense, and Atlanta United shutting down their end product will go a long way toward cutting off the service to target forward up front, C.J. Sapong.
Medunjanin in Midfield
As fans of Major League Soccer may expect, Sebastian Giovinco currently leads the league in shots from direct free kicks this season. But the second-most in the league is Haris Medunjanin, the Bosnian lynchpin of the Philadelphia midfield. He’s clearly willing and more than capable of hitting a powerful shot from deep, either from dead ball situtations or the run of play. But Medunjanin is also a skilled long passer, adept at spraying accurate long balls out into space or onto the foot of one of the team’s energetic wide, attacking midfielders. There’s a reason Atlanta United coach Tata Martino has named him specifically before each of the past three times the teams have matched up. The central midfielder is a skilled creator that is more than capable of an incisive pass to open up any team in Major League Soccer.
Right Back Rock
24-year-old right back Keegan Rosenberry has had a rollercoaster MLS career so far in just his third season in the league. The young American broke into the league with a stellar first season that got him to second place in the Rookie of the Year vote as well as a U.S. Men’s National Team call-up. But that was followed up with a stop-start year last season, with Rosenberry demoted to the bench and struggling for first-team minutes for much of his sophomore year in the league. But the young fullback is back to his best this season, contributing on both offense and defense and dominating the right flank for the Union. Capable of getting forward and providing in the attacking third, Rosenberry offers Philadelphia an opportunity to overload defenses with overlapping runs. That’s particularly dangerous for teams like Atlanta United whose fullbacks contribute so much offensively themselves. The Five Stripes will have to be disciplined to cover for each other whenever their fullbacks get forward to avoid the counterattacking threat of Rosenberry on the right wing.
Saturday’s match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. EST, and will be broadcast on FOX Sports Southeast. Click here for everything you need to know about how to follow along from home.