On Saturday, Atlanta United travel north of the border to Canada for the third time this year as they face the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place. Atlanta (5-4-3) are looking for their third straight victory to make it four matches unbeaten, meanwhile Vancouver (5-6-1) is trying to bounce back following a 1-0 loss to D.C. as well as elimination from the Canadian Championship. Saturday marks the first-ever matchup between the two clubs and you can catch all the action at 5:30 p.m. EST on FOX Sports Southeast or via FOX Sports GO.
Ahead of this weekend’s clash in Cascadia, we broke down the Tools to the Match presented by Home Depot.
1) High Press
One of the cornerstones of Tata Martino’s system is the well-orchestrated high press and last week, his team demonstrated its effectiveness in their home victory over New York City FC. The front line of Julian Gressel, Yamil Asad and Tito Villalba were constantly applying pressure on NYC’s back line making it difficult for them to play their game and pass out of the back. While Martino’s system demands an immense amount of fitness and labor from his players, it forces mistakes and takes the opposition out of their element, and it’s sure to be in action in Vancouver.
2) Find the Feet of the Mig-nificent
Voted the MLS Player of the Week for the last two match weeks, Miguel Almirón is arguably the hottest player in the league at the moment. Atlanta’s number 10 notched a hat trick in their 4-1 victory over Houston and nearly replicated his performance with a brace in their 3-1 win over NYCFC last week. The 23-year-old Paraguayan has five goals in two matches and leads his team now with a total of seven on the year. Pulling the strings from midfield but also proving extremely lethal in front of the net, Almirón will be quite the handful for the Whitecaps.
3) Don’t Sleep on the 16-year-old
As the youngest active player in MLS, Vancouver Homegrown Alphonso Davies has turned heads around the league. Signing for the first team in July of 2016, the 16-year-old made his MLS debut less than a year ago and has appeared in all but one of Vancouver’s regular season matches this year. Davies is a young technically gifted, pacey winger continuing to mature with his time with the first team. While yet to record an MLS regular season goal or assist, the Canadian teenager provides a spark every time he touches the field and it’d be hard to argue that he’s not a serious threat to the opposing back line.