Today, Atlanta United take on a Canadian Eastern Conference opponent for the second week in a row as they face Montreal Impact. Atlanta (2-1-2) are looking to remain unbeaten in five-straight matches, meanwhile Montreal (0-2-3) are looking for their first victory in their 2017 campaign. You can catch the match at 1:00pm ET on FOX Sports South. Ahead of tonight’s Eastern Conference matchup, we broke down the Tools to the Match presented by Home Depot.
1) Dictate the Play
Atlanta United has been dominant this season when it comes to controlling the possession and dictating the pace of the game. That will be crucial for the expansion side today as the Impact pride themselves in sitting in and catching teams in transition. If Atlanta can slow it down, force the Impact to chase the ball and be patient for their opportunities, they will surely find the gaps. With the likes of Atlanta’s Miguel Almirón on the ball, Montreal have very little room for error.
2) Be Wary of the Counter
Tata Martino’s sides have always been known to send numbers forward, particularly the outside backs, who act more as wing backs in his system. This can be both a pro and a con, as the attack is bolstered, however many times it leaves the back line exposed. Atlanta need to be wary in their play and not get caught forward against a team like Montreal whose offense is built off their trademark counterattacks and known to punish teams who leave the back unprotected.
3) Be Direct When It’s On
Atlanta United’s established style of play is possession-oriented, and some would say more so ‘possession with purpose’ as they are quick and direct when necessary. Last week, both of Tito Villalba’s goals, particularly the second, came from a quick transition after repossessing the opponent back near Atlanta United’s penalty area. Leandro Pirez picked his head up and found a running Villalba who was in on goal as he flew by the back line. Atlanta will most likely maintain the majority of possession today, but taking advantage of the quick counter when the opportunity presents itself will be key, especially with Villalba’s proven pace up front.