Atlanta United is back at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a midweek showdown with Supporters’ Shield leading FC Cincinnati on Wednesday night. Atlanta is coming off a second consecutive impressive performance, defeating Nashville 4-0 on Saturday night. Two of the team’s summer signings found the back of the net and the defense registered its second consecutive clean sheet against a quality Nashville side. The Five Stripes are looking for their first three-match winning streak in MLS since September 2021. FC Cincinnati will be the toughest opponent Atlanta has faced this season as they stand 11 points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference. Let’s take a closer look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against FC Cincinnati.
Thiago Almada playing at an MVP level
As many Heisman Trophy campaigns kick off this week, Atlanta’s World Cup winner kicked his MVP campaign into overdrive this past weekend. Almada scored one goal and added two assists and was creating chances all night long in the win versus Nashville. The Argentine earned MLS Player of the Matchday for the third time this season, the first player to accomplish that feat this year. His nine chances created were the most in club history, his four big chances created were the most in the league this year. His connection with the other players in Atlanta’s attack is getting better and better. If Almada continues to play at the level he displayed the last two matches, Atlanta will have an excellent chance to keep the three points at home on Wednesday.
Don’t allow Luciano Acosta time on the ball
FC Cincinnati features one of the top playmakers as well, fellow Argentine Luciano Acosta. He leads the team with 12 goals and 10 assists and will look to showcase his talents once again in Atlanta. Acosta has had tremendous success against Atlanta, even dating back to his earlier days with D.C. United in 2017 and 2018. Atlanta’s new-look midfield, with Matheus Rossetto and Tristan Muyumba playing as a pairing in the middle of the pitch, will have to be alert at all times of where Acosta is. If they allow him the time and space in and around the box, he will create dangerous scoring opportunities for Cincinnati. They feature nine different players who have found the scoresheet multiples times this season. Atlanta’s defense will be tested once again on Wednesday.
Dictate the tempo of the match and play through Cincinnati’s press
One of the reasons Atlanta has gotten off to a quick start after the Leagues Cup break is the ability to dictate the tempo of matches and play through any pressure the opponents have presented. Both Seattle and Nashville tried to pressure Atlanta’s backline at times, but Atlanta has continued to stay with its game plan of being patient and building out of the back. Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda has stated that the attacks start with goalkeeper Brad Guzan and his distribution. With the addition of Tristan Muyumba in central midfield, Atlanta now has more options to break through the first couple of defensive lines and free up Almada to receive the ball in more dangerous spots and create opportunities. If Atlanta is able to play through Cincinnati’s pressure effectively, it will have a good chance to extend its unbeaten run to three.
Fans can tune in nationally on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app on Wednesday 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 or La Mejor – AM 1600 (Spanish).