170804 Match Preview vs SKC

Match Preview: Atlanta United at Sporting KC

After the excitement of MLS All-Star week, Atlanta United return to league action as they travel to the Midwest to face Sporting Kansas City for their first-ever meeting between the two clubs. Atlanta (10-7-4) are hoping to continue their five-match unbeaten streak, while Sporting KC (9-4-9) are looking to remain at the top of the Western Conference and have yet to be defeated inside the walls of Children’s Mercy Park.

Both sides sit in the top five of their respective conference tables and they’re arguably the two hottest teams in MLS at the moment, so this will be a matchup you don’t want to miss. Catch all the action on Sunday night starting at 8:00 p.m. EST on FS1 or via FOX Sports Go.

Atlanta United (10-7-4)

In their first competitive year as a club, Atlanta United have defied the stereotypes that historically surround expansion sides. Over halfway through the season, Atlanta sit in fifth place in the East and are currently in position to make a run at the MLS Cup Playoffs. The newcomers are undefeated in five matches and will look to continue that form against KC this weekend. Atlanta have been particularly strong against Western Conference opponents, only dropping one of seven games so far this year.

Hitting the back of the net 41 times this season, only Toronto has matched the goal scoring antics of Atlanta United. In the absence of Josef Martinez in the striker role for the last two matches, fellow South American Tito Villalba has stepped up as the danger man for the expansion side. Scoring late goals in both games against Orlando including a match-winner on the road and a crucial equalizer in their final match at Bobby Dodd, the 23-year-old now leads the team with 10 goals on the season.

Also vital to their lethal front line, Yamil Asad and Miguel Almirón have recorded a combined 19 assists. After his delicate through pass to Villalba for the game-tying goal last weekend, Asad’s 10 assists are now tied for the most in MLS.

Atlanta head to KC having won their last two on the road, both of them shutouts. This moves their season total to three road clean sheets, tied for the second most in the league. While left back Greg Garza has been ruled out for the match with a shoulder injury, with team captain Michael Parkhurst returning from his fifth MLS All-Star appearance to lead the back line, Atlanta will hope to keep their unyielding defensive form intact.

Sporting KC (9-4-9)

Sporting and their KC faithful have turned Children’s Mercy Park into a formidable fortress. Blanketed in blue week in and week out, Kansas City have yet to be defeated at home this season and currently lead the Western Conference. Their recent 3-2 win over Chicago was the first time they conceded multiple goals in a home match this year, and have only let in seven through 11 games in KC.

Two weeks ago the club announced a record deal which brought in a large sum of allocation money but at the loss of their hailed front man for the last four seasons, Dom Dwyer. Fans will be sad to see their household name leave, but the team still remains first in the Western Conference with plenty of depth on the roster and now have additional resources to bring in more valuable assets.

At the helm of KC’s attack has been the number 10, Benny Feilhaber. The creative U.S. midfielder with Brazilian roots has recorded four goals and three assists on the season and has been one of the best playmakers in the league for the last few years. Another key to their success this season is Gerso Fernandes. Signed this offseason, the left-footed winger has been quite the talent, always looking dangerous and leading the team in goals with six on the year. Along with U.S. international and MLS All-Star Graham Zusi, Atlanta will have a handful to deal with in KC this weekend.

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