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Atlanta United returns home for an Eastern Conference matchup against D.C. United on Sunday, Aug. 28. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

The club is coming off a strong road draw against Columbus Crew last weekend. Midfielder Santiago Sosa scored his first career MLS goal – and appeared to have another that was called back due to a called shove. The side gave up a brace to rising star Cucho Hernández, but then found an answer thanks to Juanjo Purata’s second career MLS goal on a header. 

While a point on the road is considered a good result in MLS, Atlanta United at this point in their season needs wins. They’ll have a good chance to rack up three big points this weekend in what has to be considered a must-win when they host a D.C. United side that has had a few rough results as of late.  

“We don’t look at their past results at all,” defender Brooks Lennon said. “We know they’re a good team with a coach that was a world-class player and has a big resume. They’re obviously going to try to come here and get a result like any other team would, and we need to be ready at home.”

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Battle Of Black and Red 

Saturday will be the 14th all-time meeting between Atlanta United and D.C. United. Before the previous matchup in April, the series was evenly split with the clubs winning six matches apiece. Atlanta United has owned the series as of late, winning five of the last six, including both meetings in 2021 and the first meeting in 2022. 

In the first matchup this season, Atlanta United traveled to Audi Field. It was a game largely controlled by the visitors but went into second-half stoppage time scoreless. Then, Marcelino Moreno delivered a last-gasp goal on a header to give Atlanta United its first road win of the season. But the win came at a cost. Midfielder Ozzie Alonso, an important veteran presence for Atlanta United, tore his ACL during the match and was moved to the season-ending injury list. 

The last time the teams met at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was on September 18, 2021. Atlanta United won 3-2 behind goals from Ezequiel Barco, Josef Martínez and George Bello. Barco scored on a direct free kick, his second in as many games, and had one assist. 

Wayne Rooney’s Team

D.C. United is a different team than it was in April when these two teams faced off for the first time. This time around, D.C. United is without Julian Gressel, who was traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps in July after two seasons in D.C. Gressel played three seasons in Atlanta United, joining the club in its inaugural year, and was part of the 2018 MLS Cup roster.

Also different this time around is the head coach. D.C. United parted ways with Hernán Losada in April after a four-match losing streak. Chad Ashton served as interim head coach until the club brought on a full-time replacement. On July 12, D.C. United announced they hired Wayne Rooney, the international star from England who played in the English Premier League before joining MLS and captained for D.C. United from 2018-19. He earned his first victory as head coach on July 31 against Orlando City SC.

D.C. United is also now in a much more inauspicious position. The club is ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference table and has not scored in five consecutive MLS matches. Most recently, D.C. United was blasted by Philadelphia Union 6-0.

"It’s just a team that has a very specific way to build up from the back that is actually very interesting and it can certainly cause problems,” head coach Gonzalo Pineda said. “So, it’s a team that presents challenges and we’ll need to be ready.”

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Massive Game For Atlanta United

Similar to their opponent, Atlanta United is in a different place than it was in April. Entering Sunday’s match, Atlanta United sits just one spot above D.C. United in the Eastern Conference standings. Atlanta has a 7-10-9 record and 30 points in the table.

Although the teams are one spot apart in the table, that doesn’t tell the whole story. D.C. United is on the outside looking in with 22 points. However, Atlanta United’s 30 points puts them on par with Chicago Fire and Toronto FC. Those three teams are five points below Columbus Crew, which occupies that seventh-place spot just above the playoff line.

And Atlanta United has been playing well. The team has earned three consecutive results on the road, including the draw last weekend in Columbus, and beat Seattle Sounders 2-1. Atlanta lost to a very good Red Bulls team at home, but apart from that result has earned points in four of its previous five matches.

That may or may not prove to be enough, but one thing is for sure – if Atlanta United hopes to make a run and compete for a playoff spot, it’ll need the three points that are up for grabs on Sunday.

“This is a massive game for us to try and climb up the table and get closer to where we want to be,” Lennon said.

Key 2022 Stats and League Ranking
Atlanta United
D.C. United
Possession
58.1% (2nd)
47.5% (20th)
Average Shots Per Match
15.5 (1st)
10.5 (28th)
Pass Percentage
85.1% (1st)
76.8% (26th)
Interceptions
216
262

Players To Watch

Marcelino Moreno – The midfielder from Argentina comes up big for his team against D.C. United. On August 21, 2021, he led Atlanta United to an important 2-1 win on the road, scoring the game-winner and assisting Martínez’s goal in the 25th minute. He also had the game-winner in the previous meeting between the two sides in April. Moreno didn't play last weekend against Columbus Crew, but if he sees the pitch on Sunday he's one to watch.

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Taxi Fountas – Although D.C. United hasn’t scored in five consecutive matches, they've gotten production this season from Fountas. The 26-year-old international from Greece played previously in the Austrian Bundesliga before joining MLS in March. Fountas has gone on to have a fruitful first season for D.C. United, scoring 11 goals, and was one of 26 players selected to represent the MLS in the All-Star game this summer.

Other Tidbits

It’s a 4:00 p.m. ET kickoff for Atlanta United and D.C. United on Sunday. Click here to learn all the ways to watch, listen and live stream the match.