Following two road matches in a row, Atlanta United is back at home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this weekend when they host FC Cincinnati. The 5-Stripes will look to bounce back into the win column after a tough defeat on the road at Charlotte last weekend. Cincinnati is coming into MBS off two successive defeats. Atlanta enters the match in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings (3-2-1; 10 points) while the team from Cincinnati sits in 11th place in the East (2-4-0; 6 points). Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against FC Cincinnati.

Continue Home Dominance

Atlanta United enters Saturday night with a 10-match unbeaten streak at Mercedes-Benz Stadium dating back to last year. During that 10-match stretch, the 5-Stripes scored 23 goals, including notching three or more goals in five of the 10 matches. Atlanta’s record in those 10 matches is 7-0-3. The team’s longest home unbeaten streak in MLS play is 15 matches (from June 2, 2018 – March 17, 2019).

Atlanta enters this weekend with nine goals scored, which ranks them in the top-10 in MLS. The team is creating opportunities and has already attempted 30 shots on goal this season, the fourth-highest mark in MLS. Brooks Lennon continues to lead the team in chances created with 15, while Thiago Almada continues to get more involved in the attack with every match. The Argentine playmaker created six chances against Charlotte FC last week, the most by an Atlanta player this season in a single match. His creativity and chance creation will be key against a Cincinnati team that has conceded 14 goals in six matches this season.

Limit Acosta’s playmaking & defend set pieces effectively

FC Cincinnati’s offense has been the team’s strong suit in the early parts of the 2022 season. The team from Ohio has scored eight goals, which ranks them in the middle of MLS entering this weekend. Brandon Vazquez, the former ATL UTD striker, has been on fire in the early part of the campaign with five goals in six matches. The striker has already set a career-high in terms of goals scored for a season. A lot of Cincinnati’s offensive creativity comes from midfielder Luciano Acosta who leads the team with 23 key passes. The 5-Stripes defense will need to be switched on at all times to make sure Acosta is not afforded the space and time to create those chances for Vazquez.

Set piece defending is also something the team will be focused on after conceding off a corner kick against Charlotte last week.

Make the connections, rotations in attack count

One of the points of emphasis in recent weeks for Gonzalo Pineda and the coaching staff is to find the right connections and rotations in attack. As the attacking midfield duo of Marcelino Moreno and Thiago Almada play more matches together, that link-up in midfield will become better and better.

Following the match against Charlotte, Pineda said the following about those two players: “When he (Thiago Almada) starts to connect with Marcelino, they just move the ball faster on the field. I think it’s a good balance because Marcelino’s probably a better dribbler, a guy that can go one-on-one and pull people and turn. But Thiago’s more of a connector. So, I think it’s a very good balance there.”

Combination play and faster ball movement – both with and without the ball – are going to be key for Atlanta United to unlock FC Cincinnati’s defense on Saturday night. Fans can tune in locally on Peachtree TV and on Saturday night with kickoff set for 6pm ET. To hear the action on radio, tune into Sports Radio 92.9 The Game (English) or La Mejor Atlanta AM 1600 (Spanish).