Atlanta United is coming off an exciting victory against Inter Miami CF on Saturday night and now travels to the nation’s capital for a midweek clash against D.C. United. The 5-Stripes have been on a roll since the end of August picking up 10 points, including four points in the two road matches at Seattle and Dallas. Atlanta comes into this match sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings, three points behind third place and 12 points above the playoff line. D.C. United sits in the ninth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 35 points ahead of Wednesday’s clash. They remain just a couple of points above the playoff line as we enter the final stretch of the regular season. Let’s take a closer look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot against D.C. United.
Keep the attacking flow and momentum going
Last weekend’s match against Miami featured more than 71,000 fans in the stands and five Atlanta United goals. The attacking flow has been key for the team since the restart following Leagues Cup. The new signings have continued to integrate into the team and are already showing their quality and production on the scoresheet. Tristan Muyumba netted his first for the club against Miami, while Saba Lobjanidze became the first player in club history to record two assists off the bench. Xande Silva caused problems for Miami’s backline all night long as well.
Gonzalo Pineda’s side has always been getting production from all over the pitch and that has made his side more unpredictable over the past month or so. If the team can continue to get that production, it will force other teams to try and defend the entire pitch and they can’t just focus on Giorgos Giakoumakis or Thiago Almada. Keeping that same attacking momentum going at D.C. will be crucial for three points.
Don’t allow Benteke to dominate the game on the ground and in the air
D.C. head coach Wayne Rooney was a world-class striker in his playing days and his team at D.C. United is built around another top striker who has played at the highest level of the sport. Christian Benteke leads D.C. United in goals this season with 10 as an old-school target forward. He has won the most duels in MLS (276) and is one of the top players in the air. Atlanta’s defense will have their hands full with the Belgian international striker. One of the key contributors in getting the ball to Benteke has been offseason signing Mateusz Klich. The former Leeds United man has proven quality in his deliveries, from open play and set pieces. If Atlanta’s midfield can find Klich and not allow him the time and space to pick out passes, that would go a long way to earning three points on Wednesday.
Pick the right moments when to break lines and launch attacks
An area where Atlanta has excelled over the last five matches is being patient in build up and choosing the right moments to break lines and attack quickly. Several attacks begin with goalkeeper Brad Guzan patiently waiting for the right time to initiate the attack. Atlanta has done a better job of finding Almada in more advanced positions, which has allowed the creative midfielder to use his world-class qualities to pick out teammates in the final third. Earlier this season, Almada was forced deep many times trying to get the ball to start the attack. With the addition of Muyumba and his partnership with Matheus Rossetto, the Argentine doesn’t have to drop as far back and can influence the attack in the final third. If Atlanta can find the right moments on Wednesday night, it has the quality in the final third to punish D.C. United and take another step closer towards playoff qualification.
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 Audi Field in Washington, D.C. To hear the action on radio, tune into Sports Radio 92.9 The Game or La Mejor – AM 1600 (Spanish).