After two straight road games in U.S. Open Cup and MLS competitions, Atlanta United (8-7-3) return home to Bobby Dodd Stadium Tuesday to face the San Jose Earthquakes (7-6-5) for the first time in club history. San Jose are coming off a big win in their rivalry match this weekend against the LA Galaxy, but Atlanta will be looking for their fifth-straight home win to push them above Orlando City and into fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Here's what fans of the Five Stripes can expect out of the opponents this weekend:
Veteran in Attack
Chris Wondolowski may be 34 years old, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down production. Currently sitting at number four on the all-time MLS goal chart, “Wondo” is leading his team yet again in both goals and assists this season, with seven and five respectively, contributing to 12 of the team’s 20 goals this year. Wondolowski is known for having an acute sense of when and where to be when the ball arrives in the box, and an uncanny ability to finish chances that come his way.
Atlanta United defender Greg Garza is well aware of Wondolowski’s talents, telling media Monday, “He’s probably one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen, and he can score with his head, shoulder, eye, nose, hip, whatever.” Coming off another crucial goal against rival LA Galaxy this weekend, Atlanta’s defenders will need to be well aware of where Wondolowski is whenever San Jose is in possession.
Leaky on the Road
Atlanta United are one of the highest-scoring teams in the league, particularly at home and especially early in games. Continuing that trend of high-intensity starts and aiming for an early goal could be a big positive for Atlanta. San Jose have lost two of their last three road games, being outscored 5-1 over that stretch. The last time they scored multiple goals in a road game was back in August of last year, and they’ve only scored six goals in their thirteen road games since. Atlanta, on the other hand, have outscored their opposition by an 11-3 margin in their current four-match win streak at home, and are one of only five teams in the league to score in every home game this year.
One of the main headlines surrounding San Jose in recent weeks has been the dismissal of longtime head coach Dom Kinnear. Kinnear often played a standard 4-4-2 system with four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers playing a solid defensive game. But in his two matches in charge thus far, new head coach Chris Leitch has opted for a 3-5-2 systems – three defenders and two wingbacks on either side – pushing higher up the field with their defensive press. That poses a unique challenge for Tata Martino and the coaching staff, who will have limited film of the team in this new style. But they will hope to take advantage of any possible growing pains from San Jose as they adapt to their new system.
Follow the Match
Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on FOX Sports South and MLS Live. You can listen to the game on the 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.