Atlanta United is back on the road this weekend when it travels south to take on Orlando City SC. The 5-Stripes are coming off a wild 3-3 draw against Chicago Fire FC last weekend. The team took the lead in the first half, then looked to have completed a second half comeback before a late equalizer from Chicago split the points. Orlando is coming off an impressive 3-1 road win at intrastate rivals Inter Miami CF. Atlanta continues to rank in the top four in the Eastern Conference standings with 22 points, while Orlando sits in seventh place with 19 points. The Five Stripes will look to close out a busy month of May on a positive note. Let’s take a closer look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against Orlando City SC.
Continue to fire on all cylinders in attack
Atlanta scored three goals on the road in Chicago last weekend to take over the league lead in goals scored. The team ranks among the top teams in the league in several categories ahead of this weekend’s showdown. Atlanta has the fourth-most shots and shots on target, while the team ranks third in key passes. They will look to add to that attacking tally against an Orlando side that has allowed 16 goals on the season.
Thiago Almada continues to dazzle as he registered another assist last weekend. Almada became the fastest player in club history to reach 20 MLS assists (41 games) and is tied for seventh all-time in MLS in fastest players to reach 20 assists. The Argentine’s 14 goals + assists continue to lead MLS. If Almada is given time and space in and around the box to create chances, then Atlanta will continue to look dangerous and score goals. That would be a big step to bringing three points home from Orlando.
Stop Orlando’s momentum; Control the midfield
Orlando comes into Saturday’s match on a positive note with three consecutive unbeaten matches. Last week they secured a 3-1 victory at Miami in a Florida rivalry matchup. The attack has been pretty balanced on the season with five players scoring multiple goals. Ercan Kara is a big, target center forward type of player who has scored in three consecutive matches for Orlando. MLS Rookie of the Year candidate Duncan McGuire carried over his impressive collegiate scoring form (23 goals and the 2022 MAC Hermann Trophy) and has also netted four goals. Atlanta’s defense will need to be aware of whoever plays up top and mark them tightly in the box.
The match could also be decided in midfield. Cesar Araujo and Facundo Torres are two key players for Orlando’s game, and it will be on Atlanta’s midfield to not give those two players the time and space to find their forwards. Whichever team can control the midfield will give themselves the best chance at three points.
Feed Giakoumakis with service
Giorgos Giakoumakis has made a big splash since joining Atlanta United from Scottish Champions Celtic. He scored in all five of his starts (one of only two MLS players to do that to start their career in the league) and has now scored three goals off the bench in his last two appearances. With eight goals in 527 minutes of play, Giakoumakis leads MLS with a 1.37 goals-per-90 mark coming into this weekend. The next closest is LAFC’s Denis Bouanga at 0.98. In fact, the 1.37 goals/90 mark is slightly ahead of Josef Martinez’s pace when he entered the league in 2017 (8 goals in 570 minutes to start his Atlanta career). If Atlanta can continue to feed Giakoumakis with quality service in the box, the striker has shown that with his movement and finishing he will find the back of the net. His eight goals have come on 11 shots on target.
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 Exploria Stadium. To hear the action on radio, tune into Sports Radio 92.9 The Game (English) or La Mejor – AM 1600 (Spanish).