Atlanta United (5-3-2) are looking for five wins out of five as they make the cross-country trek to Vancouver to face a Whitecaps side (3-5-3) that are in good form in the Western Conference. With the Five Stripes back above the playoff line, they’ll be hoping another win will continue their push up the Eastern Conference standings as we head into the June break from league play.
Ahead of the interconference matchup, we broke down the Tools to the Match, presented by The Home Depot:
There’s no doubt who the danger man is in Vancouver’s attack. Since 2017, only one player has more combined goals and assists for the club than Fredy Montero’s 24 –– despite him playing abroad for the entire 2018 season. He’s dynamic on the dribble, clever with the pass and lethal with the finish, a potent combination for any attacking player. He showed that over the weekend with a well-taken finish from a flicked-on long pass that was all the Whitecaps needed to take all three points against the Portland Timbers. The Five Stripes have done a good job so far this season of marking out their opponent’s best player and forcing teams to beat them in other ways –– and they have five clean sheets in six matches to show for it. More of the same will go a long way toward taking home all three points from Canada.
Disrupt the Defense
After a bumpy start to the season, new Vancouver head coach Marc Dos Santos has turned the Whitecaps back line into a formidable unit. That’s especially been the case at home where they’ve allowed just one goal in their past three matches, including 1-0 wins over Western Conference powerhouses LAFC and the Portland Timbers. They’re a solid, disciplined unit that won’t give away cheap chances at goal, so the Five Stripes will have to fight off fatigue and be relentless with their runs to pull defenders out of position and open up space for their attack. There are ways for Atlanta United to find the back of the net, but they’ll have to earn their chances on Wednesday –– and be clinical when they come.
Fight Fatigue with Focus
Atlanta United are in the midst of a stretch of eight matches in 27 days, and with a cross-country flight thrown in for this match, it could lead to some tired legs and tired minds. The players pointed to a little bit of fatigue after the match as the reason for some of their mental lapses that allowed chances against Orlando, and Frank de Boer was adamant after the final whistle they would need to cut those out to avoid being punished. He told media Monday that some rotation could be in effect for the midweek match, and some fresh legs could carry ATL UTD to a fifth straight win. If they can stay tidy in possession and avoid costly giveaways, they can stay compact in the defense and let players fighting for a starting spot bring some energy to the squad on Wednesday.
The match is set to kick off Wednesday at 10:00 p.m. ET from BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia. You can watch the match on Fox Sports South, 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.