Tools to the Match

Tools to the Match: How Atlanta United gets back on track with win against New York Red Bulls


Atlanta United is back at home this weekend when they welcome New York Red Bulls to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta is looking to bounce back after falling on the road last week against Columbus. Despite the loss, the Five Stripes are still sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference ahead of Matchday 6 action. New York has drawn three of its first five matches this season. They are coming off a 1-1 draw at Charlotte FC last weekend. Atlanta is also looking to pick up just its second win all-time in the series, with the lone win previously coming in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. With the FIFA International break over, Atlanta will try to regain the form it started the season with. Let’s take a closer look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against New York Red Bulls.

Find the right balance and don’ let the press beat you

One of the keys to Saturday night’s match will be how Atlanta is able to connect passes and beat the Red Bulls pressure. New York has a very defined style of play and Atlanta has been training all week on how to play through or over the pressure. Passing Accuracy will be key in preventing New York to force turnovers in dangerous spots. The Five Stripes rank second in MLS in overall Passing Accuracy at 84.9%, while that number rises to 90.7% in Atlanta’s own half. Both New York and Atlanta rank among the top-10 in MLS in possession won in the attacking third. If Atlanta can continue to connect passes at a high level in their own half, that will open up the opportunity to break lines or switch the point of attack quickly and get Atlanta’s attackers into space.

That’s where the return of Thiago Almada from international duty will bey key. The World Cup winner continues to lead MLS in goal contributions (goals + assists) with eight despite missing last week’s action. If Almada has time and space to spray passes or run at New York’s defense, then Atlanta has a good chance of picking up three points this weekend.

Stay switched on against New York Red Bulls’ attack

The Red Bulls attack has only produced four goals through five matches this season, but they feature some quality players who will be looking to break out of this early scoring slump. Midfielder Luquinhas is a crafty player who leads the team in chances created. The team added a DP forward in Dante Vanzeir in the offseason and he has found the back of the net once despite only playing 73 total minutes so far. His forward partner Elias Manoel scored in the last match against Charlotte and will look to carry that momentum over into Saturday’s match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Atlanta’s defense needs to continue to stay switched on throughout the match. The Red Bulls like to create chaos with their style of play, so it will be imperative for the Five Stripes to keep their focus on the defensive side and not allow New York’s playmakers time and space to create scoring opportunities.

Creating scoring opportunities off the dribble

Luiz Araújo leads the league in completed dribbles coming into Matchday 6 with 19, while Thiago Almada ranks tied for fifth place with 13 completed dribbles. If Atlanta can get their key attacking players on the dribble and into one-vs-one situations on Saturday that should allow them to create scoring opportunities for striker Giorgos Giakoumakis. The Greek international has started just one match this season for Atlanta, but in that match his movement created space for other players and Atlanta scored five goals. The Five Stripes will look for another strong performance from their attack to get back on track and pick up three more points.

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 Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 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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