Tools to the Match

Tools to the Match: How Atlanta United hits one out of the park at NYCFC this weekend


Atlanta United hits the road this weekend making the trip up to New York City to take on NYCFC at Yankee Stadium. Atlanta enters the contest in good form sitting in a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with 13 points. The home side comes in with an even mark of 2-2-2 and trails Atlanta by five points. After earning its first-ever regular season victory against New York Red Bulls last weekend, Atlanta will look to check off another “first” this weekend at Yankee Stadium, a place the Five Stripes have never won in the regular season. Atlanta’s 4-1-1 start this season is tied for the best in team history (2018 season; 7-1-1). Let’s take a closer look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against New York City FC. 

Make MLS Regular Season Match No. 200 Special 

Atlanta United will be playing its 200th all-time MLS regular season match this weekend at NYCFC. The Five Stripes have earned the fifth-most points for an MLS team through its first 200 matches (308) all-time with the Seattle Sounders leading that category with 337 points. Atlanta is looking for its 88th all-time MLS regular season victory and will need to make the adjustment to the friendly (and small) confines of Yankee Stadium. With the pitch being smaller than most MLS pitches, Atlanta has to adjust to playing in tight spaces and winning the individual battles.

This match could be another one for Franco Ibarra to shine. He ranks second in the league with 17 tackles won and last weekend registered 14 duels won. That marked the fourth time in six matches this year where Ibarra won 10+ duels in a single match. His grit, toughness and tenacity in midfield has proven to be a good balance to Atlanta’s other creative midfielders and attackers. If Ibarra can be locked in and win duels and tackles in midfield, Atlanta will have a good chance to secure a road victory.  

Pay close attention to Rodriguez and Magno

New York is a team in transition this season. Gone are some of the more established names like Maxi Moralez, Taty Castellanos or Sean Johnson. A new, younger, crop is emerging and Atlanta’s defense will need to be aware of the variety of New York’s attack. Brazilian striker Talles Magno is now in his third season with New York and is looking to build off last season’s numbers. He finished 2022 with seven goals and 10 assists, playing all 34 regular season matches for the first time. This year he’s scored two goals already. Another player Atlanta’s defense will be aware of is Santiago Rodriguez. The Uruguayan playmaker is back with NYCFC as a DP this year and will be charged with filling the creative attacking midfielder hole that Moralez left behind. He finished last year with 13 assists and 61 key passes. 

Not allowing Rodriguez time and space to create dangerous scoring opportunities will be key for Atlanta to pick up three points at Yankee Stadium. 

Continue creating high quality scoring chances in multiple ways 

Atlanta has continued to vary its attack throughout the first six matches of the regular season. Whether it’s been smaller, intricate passing sequences, or utilizing the long ball like last weekend against New York Red Bulls, Atlanta’s attack has options. Coming into this weekend’s match, Atlanta ranks second in MLS in long ball accuracy at 60.9% (passes of 30 yards or longer). Miles Robinson’s accurate long ball last weekend initiated the goal-scoring sequence. On the small pitch at Yankee Stadium, one accurate long ball could once again lead to a dangerous attack as Atlanta looks to win its first-ever regular season match at Yankee Stadium.

Fans can tune in nationally on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app on Saturday night at 7:30pm ET when the action kicks off at Yankee Stadium. 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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