Atlanta United (6-6-3) are back on the road with a short turnaround this week, as they travel to the nation's capital to face D.C. United (4-8-3) this weekend. D.C. United sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but did steal a win in Atlanta earlier this year. Here's what fans of the Five Stripes can expect out of their opponents this weekend:
At just 26 years of age – still young for a goalkeeper – D.C. United's Bill Hamid is one of just 12 goalkeepers in league history to make more than 600 career saves. He was the youngest player ever to reach that milestone, and also became the youngest player ever to reach 45 MLS clean sheets earlier this year. Despite his young age, he has quite a bit of experience since making his debut at just 19 years old: he tops the club record books in games played, minutes, wins, saves and clean sheets.
Having recently been named in the preliminary Gold Cup roster by U.S. Men's National Team coach Bruce Arena – along with teammate Steve Birnbaum – Hamid has set himself apart as one of the premier goalkeepers in the league. Atlanta United fans, of course, know his capabilities well. Hamid made six crucial saves against the Five Stripes in Atlanta's loss to D.C. United earlier this year. Atlanta's forwards will have to make sure their shooting is spot-on to beat Hamid in the D.C. goal.
D.C. United has struggled at home this season, winning just two out of their eight home games, the second fewest in the entire league. And the scoring has dried up of late: it's been seven matches since D.C. has scored from open play, with their lone goal in that stretch coming via a penalty kick on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The bad news? Their last open-play goal came against Atlanta United in their visit to Bobby Dodd Stadium back in April. The good news is Atlanta is the second-highest goal-scoring team on the road in the league, with 1.7 goals per road game so far. The red, black, and gold will be looking for revenge to keep their momentum as they climb up the Eastern Conference standings.
D.C. United certainly sit in last place in the league in goals scored and are still missing the presence of their star striker, Patrick Mullins, at the tip of their attack. But if there is one player most likely to open up the Atlanta defense, it's Argentine midfielder Luciano Acosta.
Acosta has three goals and an assist this season, contributing to 40% of his team's goals this year. He will be looking to sit in front of the defense and play the killer pass, but he is also capable of making the forward run himself. His clever run behind the Atlanta United defense ended up leading to his game-winning goal in the matchup earlier this season. Shutting down Acosta would go a long way toward ensuring an Atlanta victory in the rematch this week.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, with the game being broadcast on Fox Sports South and MLS Live. You can also listen to the game on the Official Atlanta United App or through one of our radio partners: 92.9. The Game or, for Spanish-speaking listeners, La Mejor Atlanta. Click here for a full rundown of how to follow along with the game.