Tools to the Match

Tools to the Match: How Atlanta United secures three points on the road at NYCFC 


Atlanta United is back on the road this weekend when it travels to Queens, New York to take on New York City FC at Citi Field. Coming off a dominating performance at home against Chicago Fire FC, the 5-Stripes are looking to carry that momentum on the road. With nine points through the first five matches, Atlanta sits just three points behind the Eastern Conference lead. NYCFC has only managed four points through its first six matches this year and is in 14th position in the table coming into Saturday night’s matchup. New York’s only win this season has come at home, at the other baseball park Yankee Stadium. Saturday marks the first of four matches in April for Atlanta. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by the Home Depot against New York City FC.

Knock it out of the park early and often

One of the things Atlanta is trying to do more consistently this season is to play the same way home and away. That means controlling the tempo of the match, making the opponents adjust to Atlanta’s style of play. Saturday night presents another opportunity to do that. The team did an excellent job against Chicago last time out to create multiple quality scoring opportunities. The team finished the night with 4.60 xG on 21 shots. In particular, Atlanta’s right side was creating constant danger. Saba Lobjanidze finished the night with a career-high seven key passes and two assists. Brooks Lennon delivered another assist off a beautiful cross to Jamal Thiaré. Their chemistry and understanding continues to get better and better with more playing time.

NYCFC has conceded three goals in the opening 15 minutes this season, its worst 15-minute period through six matches. If Atlanta can get its attack going early and capitalize on opportunities, it will have a good opportunity to bring home three points Saturday night.

Strikeout New York’s attack and pitch another shutout

Through six matches, NYCFC’s attack has been held in check with only four goals scored. Santiago Rodriguez leads the team with two goals, while Alonso Martinez and Kevin O’Toole have accounted for the other two goals. According to Sportec, NYCFC ranks 22nd in MLS in terms of xG with 7.31. For comparison, Atlanta has played one less match than NYCFC and has produced an xG of 10.42 (6th in MLS). New York has talented players in the attack, but they have not been able to come together so far.

Atlanta’s defense, which ranks among the league’s best with only four goals conceded, will hope to keep New York’s attack off the scoreboard once again on Saturday.

Opportunity for other goal scorers to step up to the plate

While the 5-Stripes will miss two designated players this Saturday due to injury, that circumstance presents the opportunity for others to step up to the plate. Jamal Thiaré is coming off his best performance with Atlanta, scoring a brace off the bench and being named to the MLS Team of the Matchday. He will most likely get another opportunity from the start against NYCFC this weekend and will hope to find the back of the net again.

On the defensive side, homegrown Noah Cobb excelled in his second consecutive start and helped Atlanta keep a clean sheet. His partnership with veteran Derrick Williams is continuing to grow as the team waits for Stian Gregersen to return. While the depth of the team continues to be tested, Saturday’s match provides a good opportunity to see where the 5-Stripes stand in another road test. If these players can continue their positive play from last week, Atlanta will have a good chance to earn a positive result at Citi Field.

Fans can tune in on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV on Saturday night at 7:30pm ET when the action kicks off at Citi Field in New York. To hear the action on radio, tune into STAR 94 FM (English) or La Mejor – AM 1600 (Spanish).

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