170414 Match Preview

Match Preview: Atlanta United at Montreal Impact

This weekend Atlanta United head back to Canada as they face off against Montreal Impact on Saturday. Atlanta enters the contest coming off two hard-earned road draws in Seattle and Toronto, which are two notably challenging environments to play in, not to mention both teams appeared in the MLS Cup Final last season. After falling just short in the Eastern Conference Final last year, Montreal have yet produce the same results as last season, but the Impact can take pride in the fact that they are unbeaten at home thus far in their 2017 campaign. Kickoff between the Eastern Conference opponents is set for 1:00 p.m. ET and will be locally televised on FOX Sports South.

Atlanta United (2-1-2)

Atlanta currently sit third in the Eastern Conference standings, just two points behind leaders Columbus Crew. After traveling to Toronto and recording another point on the road, Atlanta find themselves on a streak of four matches unbeaten.

The newly formed back line has been impressive as a unit, garnering two clean sheets thus far this season, and they can feel confident headed into this week because goalkeeper Alec Kann has been stellar as of late, tallying seven saves against Toronto, placing him second in the league with 21 total on the season.

Last week’s gritty match in Toronto saw Yamil Asad sent off with a controversial red card. Whether the elbow was intentional or not has been a burning topic of conversation, but nevertheless, Atlanta will have to compete in Canada without Asad this weekend.

Atlanta United will also be without their leading scorer and MLS Player of the Month in March, Josef Martinez, who is still sidelined with a quad injury. However, the expansion side had no problem finding the net last week as forward Tito Villalba notched two goals in Toronto marking the Argentine’s first brace in Major League Soccer. Atlanta will look to Villalba and their other attacking options to continue the goal-scoring antics of this season (lead conference with 13) and perhaps bring home three points from Montreal.

Montreal Impact (0-2-3)

Montreal have not been quite the force they were last season. The Impact are currently winless and sit in 10th place in the conference standings, but external forces have not played in their favor. Four of their five games thus far have been on the road and they’ve had to compete without their Argentine hero, Ignacio Piatti, for the last two.

Identified as questionable for this weekend, if Piatti is able to play, Atlanta will have their hands full to say the least. The Argentine playmaker has been a major factor in their recent success tallying 31 goals and 17 assists in his last two seasons with Montreal.

Even if Piatti is unable to play, Italian striker Matteo Mancosu will also prove to problematic for Atlanta. After head coach Mauro Biello decided to bench Didier Drogba near the end of last season, Mancosu stepped up as their front man, scoring four key goals in their 2016 playoff run and has already netted two so far this year.

Despite their inability to capture three points thus far this season, Montreal still remain unbeaten at home. With the travel requirements and parity within the league, there are no easy road games in MLS, so this Saturday’s match will be no cake walk for Atlanta. 

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