With a low of 16, a high of 24, and a high chance of precipitation, it’s shaping up to be quite the frosty matchup in Minneapolis as the two 2017 expansion sides face off. Today’s match marks Minnesota’s Major League Soccer home opener as well as the first meeting between Atlanta United and Minnesota United, set to kick-off at 5:00 p.m. ET. at TCF Bank Stadium. Both sides are also looking for their first-ever MLS points. Ahead of today’s epic expansion team showdown, we broke down the Tools to the Match for Atlanta United presented by Home Depot.
1) Attack the Flanks
Last week in Portland, Minnesota had a tough time containing the Timbers’ wingers. Atlanta should look to expose those holes on the flank again, especially with the likes of Greg Garza and Tyrone Mears flying into the attack from the defensive half, both of whom were involved in most of ATL UTD’s scoring chances in their inaugural match against New York Red Bulls. If Atlanta’s outside backs can consistently push forward again, along with their lethal speed up front, there’s a good chance we’ll see more than one goal produced by the red, black, and gold this week.
2) Be Smart in the Back
The foundation of Tata Martino’s side is to build out of the back, remaining composed in possession even in high pressure situations. We can expect Atlanta to always implement that style, but if Minnesota’s freezing forecast today is accurate, the weather could pose a few complications for Atlanta. With wet, cold conditions Martino’s possession-oriented team won’t need to change its game plan but will need to make sure to play it safe when necessary in order to avoid any potential mistakes near its own net.
3) High Press
Another key element of Martino’s playing style is the high press. Minnesota looked solid and comfortable in possession in their first match but were criticized for playing too sideways and backwards, which ultimately showed in the final result. If Atlanta can execute their well-orchestrated high press combined with the unstable weather conditions, ATL UTD has a good chance of forcing some costly errors and Minnesota could find themselves in distress for much of the match.