Tools to the Match

Tools to the Match: How Atlanta picks up three points against tough Cincinnati team Saturday night


Atlanta United welcomes FC Cincinnati to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday night. The 5-Stripes enter the match in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just one point behind fifth-place Cincinnati. Both teams were hoping for better results last weekend, when Atlanta earned a 2-2 draw vs. Philadelphia Union while Cincinnati lost on the road at CF Montreal. Saturday’s matchup will feature two of the best defenses in terms of goals allowed as both Atlanta and Cincinnati are tied for the league lead with only seven goals conceded. The match will also mark the return of former Atlanta center back Miles Robinson, who signed with Cincinnati in the offseason. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by the Home Depot against FC Cincinnati.

Be even more clinical in the final third when chances present themselves

Atlanta United’s attack, which has scored 11 goals in four home matches this season, continues to be one of the top attacks in MLS. The team ranks in the top-10 in several offensive categories coming into this weekend, including goals scored (12; T-9th), expected goals (15.72; 5th) and shots on goal (40; T-9th). One of the keys to success on Saturday against a tough defense like Cincinnati’s will be to be even more clinical in front of net. Especially at home, Atlanta continues to create many scoring opportunities. The 5-Stripes have registered 17 key passes in three of the four home matches this season. If they can continue to create that volume of scoring opportunities on Saturday, the team will need to be clinical in the final third and score multiple goals to beat Cincinnati.

Don’t allow Luciano Acosta to take over the game and carry Cincinnati’s attack

Cincinnati’s attack has been off to a sluggish start this season. The team has only scored eight goals in eight matches this year. The eight-goal tally ranks them tied for 23rd in MLS coming into this weekend. Midfielder Yuya Kubo has been somewhat of a surprise leading goal scorer for the club with his three goals. One of the team’s designated players, striker Aaron Boupendza, has contributed just two goals so far this season.

One player who continues to contribute at a high level is Luciano Acosta, the reigning MLS MVP. Acosta is a player Atlanta United fans are very familiar with as the crafty midfielder has scored and assisted on many goals against the 5-Stripes in the past. Atlanta’s central midfield, particularly Tristan Muyumba and Bartosz Slisz, will have an important task on Saturday night in limiting Acosta’s effectiveness in the final third. If Atlanta can shut down Acosta, it will have a good chance to keep three points at home.

Continue to feature attack on the flanks

This past Sunday against Philadelphia, Atlanta routinely used the width of Mercedes-Benz Stadium to its advantage and attacked the Union on the flanks. The first goal for Atlanta was a perfect example of that, with Thiago Almada and Brooks Lennon combining on the right before Almada sent an accurate cross to the box for Daniel Ríos to nod home. The right side has been one of the major strengths for Atlanta this season. Five of the team’s nine open play goals this season have come from the right side, compared to three from the left. That right side has delivered some of the most accurate crosses in the league, sitting at 53.6% (2nd in MLS) coming into this weekend. If Atlanta can continue to find success on the flanks this weekend and pull Cincinnati’s defense apart, it should collect another win at home.

Fans can tune in on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV on Saturday night at 7:30pm ET when the action kicks off at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. To hear the action on radio, tune into Sports Radio 92.9 The Game (English) or La Mejor – AM 1600 (Spanish).

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