1280x720_tools to the match-NYC-7.3.22

Atlanta United concludes its three-match road stretch with a matchup at Yankee Stadium against New York City FC. The 5-Stripes are in need of three points following two tough losses in the last two outings. Atlanta has 19 points entering Sunday, five points below the Eastern Conference playoff line. NYCFC occupies fourth place in the Eastern Conference sitting on 28 points. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against New York City FC.

Return of Thiago Almada

Atlanta United’s squad, coaches and fans will be excited for the return of Thiago Almada on Sunday afternoon. The Argentine midfielder had to sit out the previous three matches due to suspension but has been consistently training with the team and will be well rested coming into the match at Yankee Stadium. He has tallied three goals and three assists in just under 900 minutes of action this MLS season so far. His technique, creativity and ability to create chances should help Atlanta United’s attack unlock a stingy NYCFC defense.

With Josef Martínez and Luiz Araújo healthy, Sunday could be the first match this season where all three Designated Players will get the start together. Martínez is coming off a goal at Red Bull Arena on Thursday, while Araújo has scored two goals in his last three MLS matches.

Don’t Let Castellanos and Moralez Combine

New York City FC are the defending MLS Cup champions, and they feature some of the most dangerous attackers in the league. Valentin Castellanos has scored 27 goals in his last 45 regular season appearances. He’s added nine assists as well. He’s one of the more complete strikers in MLS and Atlanta United’s backline will need to make sure to not give him to much time and space in and around the box.

Maxi Moralez has been a consistent chance creator ever since joining MLS. His 66-career regular season assists rank him fourth among active players, and he’s only been in the league for six years. Atlanta United’s defensive midfield has to mark Moralez closely to ensure he doesn’t unlock the entire defense.

Understanding Yankee Stadium layout and taking advantage of it

Yankee Stadium was not built with soccer in mind. So, when it’s converted to a soccer pitch from a baseball diamond, it brings with it unique challenges that you don’t regularly encounter. The pitch size is on the smaller side of FIFA regulations, the sight lines for goalkeepers are different. Atlanta United needs to do a good job of getting used to the pitch quickly and then find ways to use it to your advantage. The 5-Stripes feature several players on the attacking side and the wings that have excellent technical ability and can operate on the ball in tight spaces. Finding those quick one-two touch combinations, dribbling past an opponent to create space are going to be one of the ways to break down this NYCFC defense.

Atlanta continues to lead the league in passing accuracy (85.1%) and dribble success rate (56.7%). If they can reach or even exceed those kind of numbers on Sunday, Atlanta should have a great opportunity to come home with three points.

Fans can tune in to the match at New York City FC locally on Bally Sports South with kickoff set for 5:00pm ET. Click here to learn all the ways to watch, listen and live stream Sunday's match.