Tools to the Match

Tools to the Match: How Atlanta continues home form against Chicago on Sunday 


After two consecutive road matches, Atlanta United is back at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this weekend when it hosts Chicago Fire FC. The Five Stripes have excelled so far this season at home and will look to add three more points to their season total on Sunday. It won’t be an easy task as Chicago Fire FC come into Sunday’s clash on a five-match unbeaten run. Atlanta enters the weekend in third place in the Eastern Conference with 15 points, just two points off the top of the standings. Chicago has 10 points and sits in eighth place as Matchday 9 commences this weekend. Both teams will unite in raising awareness about ocean plastic waste by wearing the One Planet jerseys as part of the league’s Greener Goals Week of Service. Let’s take a closer look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against Chicago Fire FC. 

Home Sweet Home

Atlanta United has been a dominant team at home this season. In the four matches played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta has outscored its opponents 9-3 and owns a 3-0-1 (W-L-T) record. The team feeds off the energy that the crowd provides at home. When the team scores two or more goals at home, the Five Stripes own a 40-1-9 record.

This season, Atlanta leads the league with four goals scored in the opening 15 minutes of play. If the Five Stripes can get off to another fast start and score early and often against Chicago, then another three points will be on the way.  

Keep Kamara and Mueller away from the box

Chicago is coming off a 2-2 draw with Philadelphia Union last weekend in which they took a 2-0 lead against the defending Eastern Conference champs. It was the fifth consecutive match without defeat this year for Chicago. The team has been in good scoring form recently, scoring multiple goals in three of the last four matches. That attack is led by winger Chris Mueller and the ageless wonder that is Kei Kamara. Mueller has produced two goals and one assists, while Kamara leads Chicago’s attack with three goals on the year. The Sierra Leone international has 142 career goals in MLS and has scored against 26 MLS teams in his distinguished career. Atlanta is one of four current teams he has yet to score against.

Atlanta’s defense will need to be aware of Mueller’s speed on the outside and Kamara’s ability in and around the box to find small pockets of space to get shots off. Miles Robinson and Juanjo Purata will be tested in the air against Kamara. Stopping this dynamic duo will go a long way to earning victory on Sunday. 

Continue prowess through the air in attack

Since the beginning of last season, no team in MLS has produced more headed goals than Atlanta United. This year that total sits at four, thanks to goals from Giorgos Giakoumakis and Machop Chol last weekend. Last year they had 12 headed goals, led by Juanjo Purata’s six headers. Headed goals require accurate crosses and Atlanta has gotten plenty of crosses into the box this season. Since the start of last season, Atlanta ranks fourth in MLS with 214 successful crosses and sixth with a 25.8% crosses/corner accuracy. 

While Atlanta likes to break down defenses through passing patterns, being a threat on set pieces or crosses into the box is another option for the team to score. Especially when playing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where opponents like to come and bunker on defense, that tactic could prove vital to break down Chicago on Sunday. 

Fans can tune in nationally on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app as well as FS1 on Sunday afternoon at 4:30pm ET when the action kicks off at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. To hear the action on radio, tune into STAR94 (English) or La Mejor – AM 1600 (Spanish).

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