Atlanta United conclude a three-match homestand on Sunday afternoon with southern rivals Orlando City SC coming to town. The 5-Stripes are coming off a midweek victory against Real Salt Lake, while Orlando had to settle for a draw on the road at Colorado. Atlanta and Orlando are familiar foes and have produced some classic matches and moments in this rivalry. Atlanta United sits three points below the Eastern Conference playoff line entering this weekend, while Orlando are hovering three points above the line. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against Orlando City SC.
Duplicate the energy and effort from midweek
From the opening kick on Wednesday night against Real Salt Lake, you could sense a different level of intensity and energy in the Atlanta United squad. The team was flying all over the pitch, counter pressing Real Salt Lake when they received the ball. They were making runs in behind RSL’s backline. Atlanta’s two goals were the reward for the effort the team was putting in collectively.
Now the 5-Stripes need to duplicate the same level of energy and effort against their rivals Orlando on Sunday afternoon. Whether it was Cisneros running in behind and being found with through balls from the midfield, or Matheus Rossetto reading the play and jumping in the passing lane to create his first-ever assist for the club. One of the keys for Sunday will be to try and duplicate that effort. It will be the third match in eight days, so Atlanta’s squad depth will be tested once again.
Solve the Orlando trio of Pereyra, Pato and Kara
Orlando City have played some high scoring matches this season. They have invested a lot of money into the attack, and they feature several players that Atlanta United’s defense will have to be mindful of. Mauricio Pereyra has recorded nine assists already this season, the second highest total in the league. Several of those have fallen to Ercan Kara, who is a tall, powerful striker in the box. His seven goals lead Orlando coming into this weekend. The Lions also feature Alexandre Pato (three goals, four assists), who has played at some of the world’s biggest clubs like AC Milan or Chelsea.
Atlanta’s defense will look to solve the problems that Orlando’s attack presents. On Wednesday, several players had outstanding defensive performances. Amar Sejdic won a team-high four tackles, while Alan Franco and Juanjo Purata combined for 22 clearances. Marcelino Moreno won 10 duels and chipped in with three tackles won as well. Those contributions from all over the pitch will be needed again on Sunday to defeat Orlando.
Let Almada Cook
Thiago Almada looks more and more comfortable with each match that he plays for Atlanta United. This past match, the Argentine midfielder created a season-high six chances, passed the ball at 86% and led the team with 22 passes into the final third. He played a pin-point through ball to collect the assist on the opening goal and also had two dangerous shots, one of which hit the left post, in the contest. Atlanta needs to continue to find Almada in the dangerous attacking zones on the pitch and continue to off ball runs so he can create more scoring opportunities for his teammates or himself.
Fans can tune in to the meeting between Atlanta United and Orlando City nationally on ABC or ESPN Deportes on Sunday at 3pm ET. To tune in on radio fans can listen to Sports Radio 92.9 The Game (English) or La Mejor Atlanta AM 1600 (Spanish)