After coming back twice against New York City FC last time out, Atlanta United returns home to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for three consecutive matches. The first opponent is Austin FC, marking the first meeting between the two sides. Austin joined MLS ahead of the 2021 season and will prove a formidable challenge in their first visit to Atlanta. This match will be the second Full Venue match of the year and the 5-Stripes will look to use that energy from the 17s to push them back into the win column. Atlanta enters the match just five points from the playoff line in the Eastern Conference with games in hand. Austin sits in second place in the Western Conference after a good start to the year. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against Austin FC.
Carry Momentum into The Second Half of Season
Atlanta United has played exactly 17 games this season marking the halfway point of the 2022 campaign. The team is looking to carry over some positive momentum into this match following the 2-2 draw at Yankee Stadium last weekend to kick-on the second half of the year. Josef Martinez scored for the second-consecutive match giving him 94 goals in MLS Regular Season play. Dom Dwyer came off the bench late and produced the game-tying goal on his first touch in the final minutes.
Despite all the adversity the club has faced in the first half of the year, head coach Gonzalo Pineda is encouraged by the last few performances and hopes to carry that momentum over. “We just hit the halfway point of the season and we need to build out this momentum from these last two performances,” Pineda said after the match at New York City. “Today is a valuable point, the performance against Red Bulls was encouraging.”
Keeping all eyes on Driussi and Austin’s efficient attack
Austin FC sit in second place in the Western Conference and have been one of the top teams in the league all season long. They started the season with 5-0 and 5-1 victories and have carried that momentum throughout the first half of the season. They feature one of the most efficient attacks in all of MLS. They have scored 35 goals with just 69 shots on target this year.
The main man is Sebastian Driussi who has been an MVP-type candidate for Austin this year. He leads the team with 10 goals and has added four assists. MLS veteran striker Maxi Urruti sits behind him with six goals, while Diego Fagundez leads the club with eight assists. Austin leads the league with a 6-3-1 (W-L-T) record on the road this year, but Saturday’s expected crowd will be by far the largest and loudest environment the young club from Texas has ever faced. Atlanta United’s defense will need to keep eyes on Driussi and the rest of the Austin attack to keep all three points at home.
Turning Chances and Shots into Goals
Atlanta United has done a good job all season long of creating chances and shooting opportunities as a team. The 5-Stripes rank first in MLS in key passes with 188, while also leading the league in shot creating actions per 90 mins with 25.18 coming into this weekend. One of the keys for the match vs. Austin is going to be to turn those chances and shots into goals. Atlanta ranks tied for 11th overall in MLS in goals scored and they have found the back of the net at least once in every match dating back to April 16.
Atlanta’s newest Designated Player signing, Thiago Almada, ranks eighth in MLS in chances created per 90 mins (2.97) and he created four chances, including an assist to Martinez, in his return last week. Atlanta will need that kind of creativity and finishing touch this weekend against a tough Western Conference opponent.
Fans can tune in to the first-ever meeting between Atlanta United and Austin FC locally on Bally Sports South with kickoff set for 7:00pm ET. Click here to learn all the ways to watch, listen and live stream the match.