Atlanta United bounced back with a 1-0 victory in midweek against Inter Miami CF and now heads north of the border to take on CF Montréal. The 5-Stripes have a 1-0-1 record against Montréal this season, with a 1-0 victory at home and a 2-2 draw on the road. Atlanta enters the match above the playoff line in sixth place with 39 points. Montréal currently is on the outside in eighth place, but only two points behind Atlanta. A victory in Saturday night’s match would solidify Atlanta’s positioning in the Eastern Conference standings and could catapult the club as high as third in the standings if other results go in Atlanta’s favor. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot.
Carry Home Form on the Road
After dropping points on the road at Philadelphia last weekend, Atlanta picked up an important home victory. Josef Martinez scored his 100th goal for Atlanta United in all competitions, becoming the fastest player in MLS history to reach that mark (125 games played). Atlanta dominated the contest, out-shooting Miami 19-7 and had 61.9% of possession. The team ranks first in MLS in possession this season at 58%, while ranking just outside the top-10 in total chances created with 276 (11th in MLS). The 5-Stripes now will look to carry that form over to this week’s road match. Four of the last seven matches for Atlanta are on the road, so it’s important for Atlanta to earn points on the road in order to climb up the standings.
Contain Djordje Mihailovic in the center of the park
One of Montréal’s biggest offseason acquisitions was midfielder Djordje Mihailovic who was acquired from Chicago Fire FC. Mihailovic has delivered with four goals and 12 assists on the season so far. His 48 total shots lead the team as well. Many of his assists have come to striker Mason Toye, who leads the team with seven goals, and Romell Quioto (6 goals). Atlanta United’s defenders and central midfielders need to keep their eye on Mihailovic and close down the spaces so he can’t create dangerous opportunities.
Keep the Solid Defensive Foundation
Brad Guzan collected his eighth clean sheet of the season in the 1-0 win against Inter Miami. The U.S. National Team goalkeeper didn’t have to make a single save, as none of Miami’s seven shots were on target. This was the fourth time in Guzan’s Atlanta career where he earned a 0-save clean sheet. The 5-Stripes have now had eight or more clean sheets in four of the five seasons they have competed in MLS. Keeping that solid defensive foundation is crucial, especially on the road in league play. Miles Robinson, who should be in the running for MLS Defender of the Year, ranks second in MLS in duel success rate at 67.9%. Alan Franco had one of his best performances against Miami when he led the team with five interceptions. A solid defense is key on Saturday at Montréal.
Fans can tune in locally on Bally Sports South on Saturday night at 7pm ET when the action kicks off at Stade Saputo. To hear the action on radio, fans can tune in on Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. Click here to learn how to watch, listen and live stream the match.