Atlanta United completes a stretch of three matches in eight days when it travels to Texas to take on FC Dallas. It’s the final match before a FIFA International Break and the team is looking to come back with three points as the race for the top-four spots in the Eastern Conference continues to be tightly contested. Dallas is sitting in the ninth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference ahead of Saturday and will need all the points it can get to make the postseason. It’s the first matchup between the two sides since 2020. The all-time series is tied at 2-2-0 coming into this weekend. Let’s take a closer look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against FC Dallas.
Get back to the preferred game model and control the tempo
After two emphatic victories coming out of the Leagues Cup break, Atlanta United was unable to extend that streak to three matches after falling 2-1 at home on Wednesday against FC Cincinnati. One of the reasons that the 5-Stripes weren’t able to secure the win was that the game turned in the second half in favor of the visitors. It became an up-and-down transition type of match where both teams tried to counterattack each other consistently. Atlanta’s midfield, which has been a bright spot in the previous two matches, couldn’t regain the control that team had in the first half. Heading into Saturday’s road match, where the game-time temperature is expected to be in the mid-90's, Atlanta needs to control the tempo and do a better job of picking its spots of when to breakdown Dallas’ defense. If it can do that, Atlanta has plenty of attacking firepower to find the back of the net and come home with three points.
Stop Alan Velasco and Jesus Ferreira connection
FC Dallas has been looking for some consistency in its performances all season long. The team’s longest win streak this year is two matches, while its worst losing streak is also just two matches this season. They feature some quality in the attacking third that Atlanta’s defense needs to keep its attention on at all times. Jesus Ferreira leads the squad with 10 goals after an outstanding campaign last year where he finished with a career-high 18 goals. After playing for the USMNT in the World Cup, Ferreira looks poised for another top season with Dallas. One of the top chance creators on the team is Argentine Alan Velasco. The midfielder, along with Thiago Almada, was called up to the Argentine National Team for World Cup Qualifiers in this upcoming window. Atlanta’s midfield and outside backs will have to have good communication to make sure Velasco doesn’t find spaces in the pockets to create opportunities.
Take advantage of set piece opportunities
One of the areas where Atlanta has excelled this season is set pieces. The team ranks second in MLS with 16 goals off set pieces this year. Both Thiago Almada and Brooks Lennon are capable of providing quality services into the box from all over the field on set piece situations. In the 4-0 win against Nashville last weekend, Miles Robinson got on the end of an Almada corner to head in a goal. Atlanta needs to continue to build on that strength and look to take advantage of those set piece opportunities in Dallas. This season’s total of 16 set pieces is the third-highest total in club history, just two away from the 2021 total of 18 set piece goals. Providing quality service into the box and then finishing those chances will be one of the big tools Atlanta can utilize on Saturday night.
Fans can tune in nationally on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app on Saturday night at 8:30pm ET when the action kicks off at Toyota Stadium in Dallas. To hear the action on radio, tune into Sports Radio 92.9 The Game or La Mejor – AM 1600 (Spanish).