Tools to the Match

Tools to the Match: How Atlanta United closes out a busy week with three points vs. Montreal

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Atlanta United concludes a busy three-match week with a home tilt against CF Montreal. The 5-Stripes are looking to finish this week strong and with a win will secure a spot in the 2023 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. A victory would also lead to a seven-point week which would keep Atlanta in the race for a top-four spot in the Eastern Conference. The team is coming off a 1-1 draw at D.C. United in midweek, the same scoreline that Montreal achieved against FC Cincinnati on Wednesday. Atlanta still occupies the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference Standings while Montreal sits in eighth place, just a couple points above the playoff line. With only a few matches remaining, Saturday’s match is an important one for both sides. Let’s take a closer look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against CF Montreal.

Empty the tank and feed off the crowd energy

Three matches in seven days is a tall task for all teams across MLS. Atlanta defeated Inter Miami CF last weekend in front of 71,635 fans and then made the trip midweek to D.C. United and earned a point. Gonzalo Pineda’s side has to empty the tank this Saturday to defend home turf and secure a playoff spot. Atlanta’s attack continues to rank among the best in MLS, sitting in second place with 57 goals scored this season. Eleven of those 57 goals have come in the opening 15 minutes of matches. If Atlanta can feed off the crowd’s energy on Saturday and score early against Montreal, that would be a good sign as the team looks to earn another three points at home. Montreal’s record when conceding the first goal this year is 0-14-1 (W-L-T).  

Be aware of Montreal’s speed in attack

While Montreal’s attack has struggled to put up a lot of goals this season (29 goals in 29 matches), they feature a couple of players who can hurt you with their speed. One of those is Kwadwo Opoku, who joined during the season from LAFC. The Ghanaian forward has shown his quality over the last couple of seasons in MLS. In 2022, Opoku had seven goals and three assists for LAFC, and this season he’s followed that up with five goals and two assists across both clubs, including three goals for Montreal. He scored in midweek against league-leaders Cincinnati and he’s a player Atlanta’s defense will have to keep a close eye on. Bryce Duke is another acquisition that can hurt Atlanta’s defense if they allow him time and space to operate behind the strikers. If Atlanta can control the tempo and not give up many transition moments in defense, it can neutralize Montreal’s counterattack. 

Continue to get production from multiple players

One of the reasons Atlanta has the second-highest scoring attack in the league is that they can hurt you from so many different areas. Giorgos Giakoumakis leads the line with 14 goals, one behind the golden boot lead, but several other players have chipped in goals for Atlanta this season. A total of eight players have scored three goals or more, including both fullbacks (Brooks Lennon – 5, Caleb Wiley – 4). Winger Saba Lobjanidze joined that group in midweek with his third goal in only 198 minutes of action. Atlanta will need to rely on that scoring depth on Saturday as they play their third match in seven days. A win on Saturday could prove pivotal down the stretch as the team looks to reach the top-four and earn home field advantage in Round One of the Eastern Conference playoffs.   

Fans can tune in nationally on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app on Saturday night at 7:30pm ET when the action kicks off at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. To hear the action on radio, tune into Sports Radio 92.9 The Game or La Mejor – AM 1600 (Spanish).

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