Atlanta United is back at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday night and will be looking for its third win in a row when they take on Toronto FC. The 5-Stripes are coming off a tough, gritty 1-0 victory against LAFC, while Toronto enters the match off a home defeat to New England. Josef Martinez scored the lone goal on the weekend, while Brad Guzan picked up another clean sheet for Atlanta United. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot.
Atlanta looking for the “Barco to Josef” combination to keep clicking
Ezequiel Barco earned his second consecutive MLS Team of the Week honor after another strong display on the weekend against LAFC. The Argentine midfielder was all over the pitch and created two chances while also firing off two shots. He completed 26 of 30 passes, with his biggest completion coming in the 46th minute when he fed Martinez for the only score of the day. Since returning from the Olympics, Barco has been in splendid form, and the 5-Stripes will need more of that in order to get another victory on Wednesday.
Martinez also seems to be rounding into form after he scored his fifth goal of the season. It was his first goal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium since Oct. 24, 2019, and the striker was definitely happy to score in front of the home fans once again. “
I have four goals, but all four were away. Today, it’s more because I like to play against the good teams with an amazing crowd, amazing fans, so it’s a little bit special. I wanted to score so bad, but the most important are the three points.”
Keep an eye on Toronto’s Venezuelan
Toronto FC’s biggest signing this year is starting to find his form. Venezuelan midfielder Yeferson Soteldo has scored two goals but leads the team with five assists on the year, despite only playing 13 of Toronto’s 19 matches. His 26 total shots and 11 shots on target are also team-highs heading into Wednesday’s match. A good friend of Josef Martinez, Soteldo is a player that Atlanta United’s backline will have to keep an eye on. The 5-Stripes are looking for back-to-back clean sheets in MLS play for the first time since Oct. 3-7, 2020.
Play Fast and Take Risks
Since the coaching change, Atlanta United has been determined to play fast and players have been encouraged to take more risks. Over the past month, Opta has credited Atlanta United with the second-highest total of fast breaks in MLS (6). In the previous 13 matches, Atlanta had only been credited with three. The 5-Stripes are also shooting more from distance as they are tied for the lead in shots on target from outside the box with 33 this year. The increase in transition play has been noticeable and led Atlanta to back-to-back wins in MLS for the first time since the start of the 2020 season.
Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday night. Fans can tune into Bally Sports Southeast or listen on the radio on Sports Radio 92.9 The Game to catch the action.