After a convincing victory in the U.S. Open Cup in midweek, Atlanta United returns to MLS action this weekend when they travel to Fort Lauderdale to take on Inter Miami CF. The 5-Stripes scored six goals in the Open Cup and will look to carry that confidence over into Sunday’s clash. Atlanta enters this weekend ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference standings with a 3-2-2 (11 points), while Miami ranks 13th with a 2-4-1 (7 points) mark. Don’t let the record fool you though as both of Miami’s victories have come in the last two weeks, defeating New England at home and then earning an impressive road win at Seattle. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot.
Convert the Chances you create
The last two league matches have seen Atlanta United fail to find the back of the net. It wasn’t for a lack of creating chances though. Atlanta has set season-highs in chances created in back-to-back matches after creating 13 vs. Charlotte and 19 against Cincinnati. One of the keys to Sunday’s match vs. Inter Miami is going to be converting those chances. That has been one of the points of emphasis for head coach Gonzalo Pineda this week. The team took a step in the right direction on Wednesday in the 6-0 victory vs. Chattanooga FC. Atlanta created 18 chances in the match and scored six goals on six shots on target. In MLS play, the team enters this weekend tied for second with 71 created chances and fourth in shots on goal (36). They need to convert the chances they create to come back with three points from Miami on Sunday.
Keep eyes on Campana and Robinson
Miami’s current two-match winning streak has been fueled by the insertion of Leonardo Campana in the main striker role. The Ecuadorian striker is in form coming off a hattrick against New England and assisting on the game-winning goal in Seattle. He also scored the lone goal in Inter Miami’s Open Cup victory over local rivals Miami FC in midweek. His movement and mobility have brought a new dynamic to Miami’s attack. Another player to keep an eye on is Robbie Robinson, who scored the winner in Seattle. The former No. 1 overall SuperDraft pick has one goal and one assist this season after scoring four goals in 24 matches last season. Atlanta United’s defense, which is coming off back-to-back clean sheets in all competitions, will need to keep their eyes on Campana and Robinson and not be fooled by their constant movement in attack.
Maintaining possession and getting production from the No. 9 spot
With kickoff time set for 1:00 p.m. ET and the weather forecast calling for temperatures in the mid-80s, one of the key factors will be to maintain possession and make the other team chase the ball. Atlanta has done a good job of keeping possession through the opening weeks of MLS play, ranking fifth in the league at 55.7% possession entering Sunday.
One of the big bright spots from Wednesday’s Open Cup victory was to see the production and play from the striker position for Atlanta United. Dom Dwyer scored two goals and added an assist, while Ronaldo Cisneros contributed with his pressing and winning balls back after coming on in the second half. In the absence of Josef Martinez, Dwyer and Cisneros are getting their opportunities and it will be important for Atlanta to continue to get production out of that position until Martinez returns.
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