170421 Match Preview

Match Preview: Atlanta United at Real Salt Lake

Atlanta United finish their four-match road stretch this weekend as they travel out west to take on Real Salt Lake. Following gritty draws in Seattle and Toronto, the expansion side is looking to bounce back from a late, stoppage time defeat in Montreal. Meanwhile RSL have been finding a rhythm as of late and are searching for their third straight victory. Both clubs currently sit 6th in their respective conference standings. The matchup in Rio Tinto Stadium will kick off at 9:30 p.m. ET on Saturday and will be televised on Atlanta’s CW69.

Atlanta United (2-2-2)

ATL UTD were off to a hot start in their inaugural season, winning two out of their first three matches in March, but their stretch in April has proven as tough as predicted. The expansion side has traveled for the last three match weeks, gaining a hard-earned point against Seattle and later Toronto, both of which appeared in the 2016 MLS Cup Final, and nearly took another point in Montreal until the home side scored a last-minute go-ahead goal.

However, great news for Atlanta United as the club won its appeal of Leandro González Pirez’s red card from last week’s contest in Montreal, so the solid center back will be eligible to play against RSL. Argentine winger Yamil Asad will also be back in the mix after serving his suspension last week.

In Salt Lake City, Atlanta United will be looking to rebound after the last-minute heartbreaker against the Impact. They will also hope to add to their 14-goal tally on the season with some firepower up front in Kenwyne Jones, who has over 100 career goals, notching his first in MLS just a week ago and 23-year-old young DP Tito Villalba who has three goals and two assists on the year. They shouldn’t have any issues being set up with Paraguyan playmaker Miguel Almirón pulling the strings, who also has two goals and three assists of his own.

This is Atlanta’s final match of their road stretch before they return back home to Atlanta next week to face D.C. United on April 30th in Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Real Salt Lake (2-3-2)

RSL’s 2017 season has been a rollercoaster ride to say the least. After finishing 6th in the Western Conference last year and only taking one point through their first three matches this season, the club made the decision to sack head coach Jeff Cassar. Interim coach Daryl Shore carried the team through two more matches before RSL appointed former New York Red Bulls manager and Real Monarchs (USL affiliate) head coach, Mike Petke, as the new gaffer in Salt Lake City. Since Petke took charge, Real Salt Lake look like a completely rejuvenated side, recording back-to-back wins against Vancouver and Colorado.

Key for RSL this season has been Designated Player Yura Movsisyan, who’s notched four goals so far, as well as newly acquired DP Albert Rusnák. The 22-year-old Slovakian international signed with the club in January of this year and already has three assists and a goal to his name, not to mention his indisputably influential role in orchestrating RSL’s attack. Another new piece vital to their recent run of success is Brooks Lennon, U.S. U-20 international on loan from EPL side Liverpool F.C., playing the full 90 in their previous five matches and scoring the late winner against the Rapids last week.

All the above will be crucial this weekend as Real Salt Lake search for their third straight victory and maintain the unbeaten reign of Mike Petke.

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