Tools to the Match

Tools to the Match: How Atlanta United gets a positive result at regional rival Nashville SC 

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Atlanta United continues its road swing this weekend when the 5-Stripes travel to Nashville SC on Saturday afternoon. Atlanta is looking to reverse its recent form with a big road win against a Nashville side that sits just two points above Atlanta in the standings. This has been a historically even matchup as the previous nine MLS meetings have resulted in a 3-3-3 (W-L-T) record. Atlanta’s last victory in Nashville came back in 2020, the inaugural match for Nashville in front of a packed Nissan Stadium. The 5-Stripes will have a large group of supporters cheering them on at GEODIS Park once again on Saturday. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by the Home Depot against Nashville SC.

Score early and control the tempo of the match

All three of Atlanta’s wins this season have come when the team has scored first and taken a lead into halftime. That has to be the goal once again this weekend at Nashville. Atlanta’s attack has created opportunities over the last several matches, but the goals haven’t come as easy as they did in the early parts of the campaign. Despite only scoring three goals in the last four matches, the team’s xG is sitting at 6.57 in those contests. If Atlanta can convert the chances it creates and put Nashville under pressure at home, then the 5-Stripes have a good chance to come back with points.

Find Hany Mukhtar in transition and be alert on set pieces

Nashville SC comes into the match on Saturday off a 2-0 home win against Toronto FC in midweek. The team parted ways with longtime head coach Gary Smith and Rumba Munthali takes over on an interim basis. The team still possesses a lot of talent, especially in the attack with former MVP Hany Mukhtar. The German attacking midfielder has had tremendous success in the all-time series against Atlanta, scoring five goals and adding six assists in nine matches played. He will present a challenge for Atlanta’s midfield and backline.

Another area where Nashville has had success in the past is through set pieces. Mukhtar’s quality on the delivery coupled with players like Walker Zimmerman or Anibal Godoy provide a challenge for any team on set pieces. Atlanta’s defense will need to be strong and make sure Nashville don’t score easy goals on set pieces.

Stay compact defensively and close down space in midfield

Coming into Saturday, Atlanta’s defense continues to rank in the top-10 in goals conceded with only 15 this season. Atlanta’s defense needs to continue to stay compact and work together as a unit to not allow Nashville open spaces in and around the box. The 5-Stripes have only allowed 55 shots on target by their opponents, which ranks seventh in MLS coming into this weekend. If they can limit Nashville’s scoring opportunities by making this compact and closing down the midfield, they will have a good chance to get some road points this weekend.

Fans can tune in on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV and FOX on Saturday afternoon at 1:45 pm ET when the action kicks off at GEODIS Park in Nashville, Tenn. To hear the action on radio, tune into Sports Radio 92.9 The Game (English) or La Mejor – AM 1600 (Spanish).

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