Atlanta United (1-3-2) are looking to bounce back quickly from last week’s setback at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and they get a chance to do just that on Saturday as they host the Colorado Rapids (0-6-2). While the Five Stripes are coming off their first home loss in ten months, the players can be confident that if they create similar chances this week, they can come out with three valuable points to start their ascent up the Eastern Conference standings.
Ahead of Atlanta United’s latest test, we broke down the Tools to the Match, presented by The Home Depot:
There’s a reason the Colorado Rapids’ biggest offseason acquisition is one of the most prolific goalscorers in the history of Major League Soccer. Kei Kamara is a predator in the box, especially feasting on aerial balls that he can meet with his head. His five goals leads his team so far this season, with no one else tallying more than two –– so Atlanta United’s defenders will have to keep an eye on him whenever he steps foot inside the box. But another key part to defending a target man striker is cutting off his service. Fellow new addition Keegan Rosenberry will be constantly looking to get forward down the right flank and whip in dangerous crosses aimed at Kamara’s head. It will be important for the midfielders and fullbacks to prevent those crosses from coming in to alleviate some of the pressure that Kamara can put on any center back pairing.
The Rapids rebuild has included two key additions to the center of the park, and shutting down their connection would go a long way to securing a clean sheet. MLS veteran Benny Feilhaber moved to Denver this offseason after spending last year with LAFC, while Kellyn Acosta’s move from FC Dallas midway through last season has allowed him time to settle in his new team. But the success of the Rapids midfield this year will be built on the connection of two players with plenty of MLS success on their resume. Especially with fellow midfielder Jack Price suspended for this weekend’s match due to a red card, breaking up their rhythm and chemistry can go a long way toward keeping a valuable home clean sheet.
Trust the Process
There’s no real secret as to what kept Atlanta United from taking all three points next weekend: Atlanta United has to be more clinical in front of the net. But the underlying numbers show a team that is ready to break out. Their 22 shots against Dallas was the most they’ve had all season, and only an outstanding performance from their goalkeeper kept Atlanta United from securing three points. But the players echoed the same sentiment after the game: keep creating chances like they did last week, and sooner or later they have to start going in the net. So the Five Stripes need to keep their patience, and look at the build-up play that was successful against a Western Conference powerhouse last weekend. As Frank de Boer alluded to after the match, if they create as many chances as they did against Dallas, Atlanta United’s quality in front of goal will eventually shine through and the Five Stripes will be back to their high-flying selves.
The match is set to kick off Saturday at 4600 p.m. ET from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. You can watch the match on Fox Sports Southeast, stream it on Fox Sports GO or listen in on 92.9 The Game or in Spanish at La Mejor Atlanta. For more details on how to follow along from home, click here.