A busy week for Atlanta United concludes on Saturday afternoon when it travels to GEODIS Park and faces Nashville SC. Both teams are coming off midweek matches in the U.S. Open Cup; Nashville earned a victory while Atlanta suffered defeat. The Five Stripes have been in good form in the league, especially away from home, picking up points in three of four matches. Atlanta is coming off a late victory against Chicago Fire FC last week, while Nashville played LAFC to a 1-1 draw at home. The Five Stripes enter this weekend in third place in the Eastern Conference with 18 points, while Nashville sits in sixth place with 12 points.
Let’s take a closer look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against Nashville SC.
Fight until the last second
Atlanta United scored the latest goal in team history last weekend, when an own goal by Chicago in the 99th minute gave Atlanta the three points. On Matchday 1, Thiago Almada scored a free kick in the 99th minute as well to earn a 2-1 win against San Jose. Over the past two seasons, no team in MLS has scored more goals in second-half stoppage time than Atlanta United (10). The next closest are D.C. United, Charlotte FC and Columbus Crew (each with 6). That never say die attitude and fight until the last second mentality will be important once again this weekend as Atlanta looks for its second-ever win in Nashville, but first at GEODIS Park.
All eyes on Hany Mukhtar
Nashville features one of the best attacking midfielders in the league in Hany Mukhtar. The German-born midfielder has made a splash since he joined the league and continues to thrive in Nashville this season. He leads the team with three goals and three assists in 2023, while he has accumulated 46 goals and 30 assists in 88 matches played in MLS for his side. The 2022 MVP and Golden Boot winner is someone that Atlanta’s backline has to be aware of at all times. He likes to play in that second striker, attacking midfielder role, so it will be incumbent on Atlanta’s centerbacks and defensive midfield to have good communication to close down the spaces for Mukhtar to operate. Nashville has only produced eight goals in nine matches all season, and Mukhtar has been involved in six of those eight goals.
If Atlanta can shut him down, that will be a big step towards securing three points.
Allow Almada time and space to operate
Thiago Almada has been the best attacking midfielder in MLS this season, and it’s no secret that Atlanta’s attack runs better when the Argentine is on the pitch. He leads the league in goal contributions (10) entering this weekend and has been the main chance creator for Atlanta United all season long. He still ranks second in MLS in chances created (23) despite missing two full matches this year.
Besides Almada, Brooks Lennon has stepped up his chance creation once again. Last week against Chicago he led the team with four chances created. Lennon, who is in line to become just the ninth player in ATL UTD history to make 100 appearances (all comps) for the club this weekend, has been a consistent chance creator in his time in Atlanta. He has 182 total chances created over 89 MLS regular season appearances for ATL UTD. If Atlanta can get those two on the ball and creating scoring opportunities, that would go a long way to earning another road victory.
Fans can tune in nationally on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app as well as FOX on Saturday afternoon at 1:30pm ET when the action kicks off at GEODIS Park. To hear the action on radio, tune into Sports Radio 92.9 The Game (English) or La Mejor – AM 1600 (Spanish).