Today, Atlanta United return to the ATL for the third match of their inaugural season as they face visiting Eastern Conference opponent Chicago Fire. Atlanta sit in third place in the conference with three points after their first-ever victory last weekend, while Chicago lie just above them in second with four points and a 1-0-1 start. Both teams are coming off big wins, so there will be no shortage of motivation in this matchup. Ahead of today’s 4 p.m. ET kickoff, we broke down the Tools to the Match for Atlanta United presented by Home Depot.
1) Find the feet of #10
After a decent performance in his first MLS match against New York Red Bulls, Miguel Almirón really came into his own in last week’s match against Minnesota United. It seemed like every instance where Atlanta United’s number 10 had the ball at his feet, good things happened. Not only pulling the strings and orchestrating the attack, the 23-year-old Paraguayan also proved he can pull the trigger and finish on his own if provided the opportunity. After scoring a brace and tallying an assist in the expansion clash, Almirón will look to be the same playmaking menace against a freshly assembled Chicago Fire midfield.
2) Concrete Kann
Behind last week’s goal-fest in Minnesota, the unsung star was that of goalkeeper Alec Kann who made a total of six saves in the match. Despite the 6-1 final result, Kann’s heroics prevented a couple of late goals in the first half, which if allowed, could have made it a deadlock at half and completely changed the course of the match. He could have had a shutout too if it weren’t for a penalty kick awarded to the opposition which obviously put the goalkeeper at a disadvantage. There’s a good chance Kann will be busy again with the likes of Chicago’s David Accam and Nemanja Nikolic invading his space, so the Atlanta native will have to be a wall once again to help ATL UTD secure its first-ever home victory.
3) Feed Josef Martinez
Whether it was Yamil Asad, Miguel Almirón, or Tito Villalba, Atlanta United consistently threaded passes to Josef Martinez who made countless back-shoulder runs and was in on goal time and time again last week against Minnesota. Not only did he create the space and find the opportunities, but he finished superbly, notching a hat-trick and earning MLS Player of the Week honors. Though a number of new faces for the club, it’s still a Chicago Fire team that conceded 58 goals last season and it won’t be any easier with a danger man like Martinez to try to contain.