Atlanta United is looking to bounce back from a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia on the weekend. The 5-Stripes had their three-match winning streak halted by a tough Union side. Inter Miami has lost two matches in a row at home by a combined score of 9-1. Both teams are battling for a position in the Eastern Conference playoffs, giving the match on Wednesday some extra importance. Atlanta is just one point under the playoff line, while Miami already finds itself five points below the line with only eight matches left to play. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot.
Home Sweet Home for Atlanta
Atlanta United re-established its home field dominance at the beginning of the month. The 5-Stripes took three-straight home matches and outscored their opponents 10-2 in the process. For the season, Atlanta has a 7-3-3 home record. Four of the team’s final eight matches are at home and taking three points in each of those will be critical for Atlanta’s playoff chances. Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda has focused on making a strong connection with the fan base since arriving, and they have returned the favor with rowdy and proud crowds at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Look for another one on Wednesday night as they look to defeat Inter Miami for the first time in the club’s history.
Don’t let Gonzalo Higuain have good looks on goal
Inter Miami’s main scoring threat all season has been the former Juventus star Gonzalo Higuain. He leads Miami in goals (10), assists (5), total shots (61) and shots on target (27) this season. Atlanta’s defense needs to make sure to not allow Higuain time and space in and around the box. What he doesn’t have anymore in speed, he will make up for with experience and positioning, so it will be important for Atlanta’s center backs to keep a close eye on Higuain. Cutting off the service from wide areas is also important, with Lewis Morgan being one of the top chance creators for Miami this year.
Free Flowing Attack and Set Pieces
Prior to Saturday’s match at Philadelphia, Atlanta had displayed a free flowing attack in the recent matches. Players like Ezequiel Barco, Luiz Araújo or Marcelino Moreno were given the freedom by Coach Pineda to roam all over the pitch and use their skill and pace to cause problems. The 5-Stripes will look to get back to that free flowing attack on Wednesday to cause Miami’s backline some problems. Set pieces could also play a big factor as Atlanta has scored eight set piece goals this season, which ranks them in the top-10 in MLS. Barco has scored direct free kick goals in two of the last three matches.
Fans can tune in locally on Bally Sports Southeast on Wednesday night at 7pm ET when the action kicks off at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. To hear the action on radio, fans can tune in on Sports Radio 92.9 The Game.