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Atlanta United heads to Canada for the first time in 2022 to take on CF Montréal on Saturday afternoon at Stade Saputo. The 5-Stripes are coming off a tough 2-1 loss at Miami, while Montréal are currently on an unbeaten run of five matches heading into this weekend. Despite Atlanta’s current run of form, the team still sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, tied with Montréal on 11 points with an identical 3-3-2 record. The 5-Stripes are seeking their second road win of the season. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against CF Montréal.  

Continue to Create Chances  

While the results over the last three weeks have been frustrating, head coach Gonzalo Pineda continues to be encouraged by the team’s chance creation. The numbers back him up. Atlanta has created 83 chances through the first eight weeks of the season, which ranks them 3rd in MLS coming into this weekend. That is a marked improvement over the last couple of years when Atlanta ranked T-17th (2021) and 25th (2020) in chances created through 8 matches. Brooks Lennon ranks fourth individually this year with 24 chances created, while Thiago Almada is making an impact early on with 2.17 chances created per match. Coach Pineda knows that finishing has to be more clinical, but this is something he believes the team can work on. 

“We can continue playing offensively and trying to create chances. This is a better problem to have. Not being clinical when you create too many chances, rather than not even creating at all. Then you’re begging for a set piece or a counterattack or something like that in order to create goals. We have to do better. We have to try to be more clinical. In time, I think this thing will change.”   

Stopping Mihailovic and keeping Montréal out of transition 

Montréal’s attack has been solid this season scoring 14 goals in eight matches. The player who stirs the attack is attacking midfielder Djordje Mihailovic. The American leads the team with four goals and three assists. Eight of his 12 total shots have been on target, while his 17 key passes are far and away the most on Montréal’s team. He has flourished in Wilfried Nancy’s side since he joined from Chicago. Saturday will be a big test for Atlanta’s midfield and backline to make sure they know where Mihailovic is at all times. His positional flexibility allows him to pop up all over the field, so communication in Atlanta’s defense will be key.  

Montréal also features two quality finishers in Romell Quioto and Kei Kamara. The veteran strikers have combined for five goals this season and 159 in their MLS Regular Season careers. Kamara is crafty in the box, while Quioto has the speed to beat you in transition. Keeping Montréal out of those transition moments we saw in the first meeting (3-3 on 3/19) will be another point of emphasis for Atlanta this week.   

Create Shot Actions in Variety of Ways

Heading into this weekend’s action, Atlanta United ranks second in MLS with 190 Shot Creating Actions (defined as actions like dribbles, passes, drawn fouls that lead to a shot). Over the last two weeks against Cincinnati and Miami, the 5-Stripes have shown a great variety of ways to attack a defense. Ronaldo Cisneros scored his first ATL UTD goal off a corner kick. Homegrown player Caleb Wiley has been flying up and down the left wing, forming a great partnership with Andrew Gutman. In the middle of the pitch, Marcelino Moreno and Almada have connected better through their touch-and-go plays. Coach Pineda has been happy with the movement and connections in the attack. One of the keys to success on Saturday will be to continue to utilize those varying ways of attack to keep Montréal’s defense off balance.  

Fans can tune in locally on Bally Sports Southeast on Saturday afternoon with kickoff set for 4pm ET. Click here to learn all the ways to watch, listen and live stream Saturday's match.