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Atlanta United kicks off the first of two straight road matches Wednesday with a conference matchup against Philadelphia Union. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET. 

Atlanta enters another one of its busy stretches – and one of its longest road trips of the season. This week, Atlanta United has two away matches. First up, a midweek match against the Eastern Conference leader, Philadelphia Union. Then, it’s onto the Pacific Northwest on Sunday to face the last Western Conference opponent of the season, Portland Timbers. 

With only seven matches remaining in the regular season, and playoff spots in the Eastern Conference well beyond being confirmed, Atlanta United needs to make the most of the road trip. The team won't be returning to Atlanta in between the two away matches this week, so the team will have space to focus on the matches that lie ahead.

Entering into the final stretch of the season, the team faces an urgency to climb up the conference table. Atlanta got a good boost on Sunday, beating D.C. United 3-2 in a thrilling match. Just three points separate Atlanta United from the playoff line, and head coach Gonzalo Pineda said the team feels a poised urgency in this moment to win games.

“Yes, there's an urgency for winning. Yes, we have the full motivation to win,” Pineda said. “But I don’t feel the team is pressured. When you are pressed and are under pressure, normally you tend to shut down and panic a little bit, and I don’t see the team in that mood. I see the team with full commitment. I see the team with full urgency.”

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Matchday Conditions  

The conditions at Subaru Park are expected to be warm and sunny. The forecast at kickoff is around 40 percent humidity with a high temperature around 83 degrees Fahrenheit.  

About Philadelphia Union  

Philadelphia Union is an Eastern Conference club based in Chester, Pa. on the banks of the Delaware River. The club was founded in 2008 and began MLS play in 2010. Philadelphia Union won the Supporters’ Shield in 2020, the first title in club history. They reached the finals for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup three times (2014, 2015, 2018) and the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2011, 2016, 2018 and 2019. The club made its first and only appearance in the MLS Cup Finals in 2008.

The club’s marketing and branding connects to American colonial history. The name, chosen by a fan vote held in 2009, refers to the Union of the Thirteen Colonies, of which Philadelphia was the first capital.  The club’s colors represent the Continental Army's uniforms during the American Revolutionary War.

Like Atlanta United, Philadelphia Union has a rich pathway to the pros. The Philadelphia Union is owned by Keystone Sports and Entertainment LLC, which also operates Philadelphia Union II in the USL, the Philadelphia Union Academy, Philadelphia Union Foundation and Philadelphia Union Youth Programs. The Union has signed nine local players from their academy to a first team contract. 

  • Home venue: Subaru Park, a custom-built stadium part of the Union’s unique waterfront campus that features a power plant, creative office building, training complex and over seven acres of soccer pitches and parking fields. 
  • Main colors: navy blue, gold 
  • Head coach: Jim Curtin 

Taking On The MLS Eastern Conference Leader 

Atlanta United and Philadelphia Union have met nine times in MLS play. Atlanta has owned the series with a 4-2-3 record. The series has been played relatively evenly as of late with two draws in the last three meetings. 

Although they’re in the same conference and therefore meet twice in the regular season, it's taken all the way into nearly September for the first matchup. The last time Atlanta United and Philadelphia Union played was a year ago in September 2021. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan made a remarkable effort for the visiting side at Subaru Park with eight saves, but Atlanta conceded a goal and lost 1-0.

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This time around, Atlanta United travels to Subaru Park and meets a Philadelphia side that's in excellent form. The Union occupies first place in the Eastern Conference standings with 15 wins and 54 points in the table. They’ve been largely successful on the offensive side of the ball, winning back-to-back matches by six goals and leading the league in total goal difference (+37). 

"We need to focus on us as well because we don’t have too much time to focus on the opponent, and I feel like we need to play in our style with a little bit more balance,” Pineda said. 

Seven Matches Remaining For Atlanta United 

Atlanta United is currently in 11th place in the Eastern Conference table with 33 points and an 8-10-9 record. 

This puts Atlanta United in a very similar position to where they were last season: looking to close out with a strong run and qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs. To make that happen, it’ll likely need to earn at least one result in the two upcoming meetings with the no. 1 team in the conference. Atlanta United will face Philadelphia Union twice in the span of three weeks. First, at Subaru Park on Wednesday then again at home on September 17. 

The 3-2 win over D.C. United on Sunday greatly helped Atlanta’s cause. The three points pushed Atlanta United further up the Eastern Conference table, momentarily past Charlotte FC and Chicago Fire, and within three points of the playoff line. Now, the team will look to continue that effort and earn its fourth consecutive road result. 

"They’re a great team, just like a lot of other teams we’ve played already this season,” defender Brooks Lennon said. “I know everyone in this locker room is going there with the mindset that we need some points, whether it’s a win or a tie. So, we’re all focused for that.”

Key 2022 Stats and League Ranking
Philadelphia Union
Atlanta United
Possession
43.4% (26th)
58.1% (1st)
Expected Goals per 90 Minutes
1.84 (2nd)
1.49 (9th)
Pass Percentage
75.2% (27th)
85% (1st)
Accurate Shooting Percentage
40.3% (2nd)
35% (12th)

Players To Watch 

Brooks Lennon – Atlanta United has scored multiple goals in four of their last five matches. And a big reason for that is the play of creators like Thiago Almada and Lennon, who has made his mark since returning to the starting XI against Columbus on August 21. Lennon ranks among the best in the league in expected goals assisted and shot-creating actions. This past match against D.C. United, he assisted two of Atlanta’s three goals, which earned Lennon the Golden Spike of Excellence and Man of the Match honors.

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Dániel Gazdag – The senior international from Hungary has been on a tear for Philadelphia. In the 6-0 win over Colorado, Gazdag accounted for half of the team’s goals, scoring a hat trick to earn MLS Team of the Week honors. His third goal brought him to 16 on the season, which leads the team and ties the club’s single season scoring record. Gazdag has scored in seven of Philadelphia’s last nine matches and ranks fourth on the team in minutes played this season. 

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