Atlanta United is back on the road at FC Cincinnati on Wednesday night. It will be the first trip to Cincinnati’s new stadium, TQL Stadium, for the 5-Stripes. Atlanta is coming off a 1-0 defeat to New England on the weekend, while Cincinnati played a wild match north of the border against Montreal and lost as well. Wednesday’s match will be the first for interim head coach Rob Valentino. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot.
Convert chances into goals
Atlanta United are looking to get their attack on track after scoring 13 goals so far this season. The 5-Stripes have been creating chances in almost every match this season. In 11 of 13 matches, Atlanta has created seven or more chances. In order to turn around the recent results, Atlanta needs to continue to create chances and convert those into goals. The return of Josef Martinez could provide a big boost. The Venezuelan hasn’t played in an MLS match since May 29. He had scored two goals in his last four appearances before heading on international duty.
Other players will also need to step up to convert the chances that are provided. Erik Lopez and Jackson Conway have each scored one goal. The other goals have come outside of Atlanta’s striker group so far this season. In terms of creating chances, Brooks Lennon continues to be the team leader with 36, while Marcelino Moreno has 20 heading into Wednesday’s match.
Watch out for Acosta and company
Luciano Acosta has been playing better for Cincinnati lately, and he has always been a thorn in Atlanta United’s side. Acosta leads this Cincinnati team with three goals and three assists, and he has scored several critical goals against Atlanta United dating back to his time with D.C. United. Another player to watch out for is Brazilian striker Brenner who tallied his first brace of the year last time out. He has three goals and one assist but was a highly coveted Designated Player signing for Cincinnati in the offseason. Atlanta will need to keep an eye on these two players to make sure they don’t find space in front of goal.
Tighten up defensively
Atlanta United has been one of the better defensive sides in its MLS history. Since joining MLS in 2017, Atlanta has produced 43 clean sheets in regular season play, which is tied for the most in that timeframe in the league. The 5-Stripes have kept three clean sheets this year and only have one clean sheet victory on the year - the 1-0 win vs. CF Montreal back in May. With a strong and compact defense on Wednesday, Atlanta could limit Cincinnati’s attack and push for a big road win.
Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. ET from TQL Stadium in Cincinnati as Atlanta United travels to take on FC Cincinnati. The match will be nationally broadcast on FS1 or fans can tune into Sports Radio 92.9 The Game for the action.