Atlanta United continue their week on the road as the expansion side head north to Philadelphia to face the Union for the first time in the history of the two clubs. Atlanta (10-8-5) are looking to bounce back after a 1-0 defeat in D.C., while Philadelphia (8-12-6) are also hoping to redeem themselves after their 3-0 midweek loss to Eastern Conference leaders, Toronto FC.
Catch all the action between ATL UTD and the Union on Saturday night starting at 7:00 p.m. EST on FOX Sports Southeast or via FOX Sports Go.
Atlanta United (10-8-5)
With eleven games remaining in their inaugural season, Atlanta sit in 7th place in the East but have played fewer games than all their opponents due to a heavy fixture coming in September. Despite Wednesday’s defeat in D.C. and technically sitting below the playoff line at the moment, with a few games in hand and the most home matches remaining out of the entire league, the expansion club have much to look forward to heading into the final stretch of the season.
Playoffs could still be in the cards for ATL UTD, and it will be massive for them if they can stay healthy. Recently returning to the side on Wednesday was forward Josef Martinez and left back Greg Garza, who have both played a key role in their unprecedented expansion success. Garza’s work rate and ability to get forward on the wing in coach Tata Martino’s system was explosive enough to earn him a spot in the MLS All-Star game, while Martinez – despite missing nearly half of the season so far with injury – is the team’s second leading goal scorer with 9 on the year and scoring nearly a goal per game. Meanwhile the team will miss the presence of midfielder Carlos Carmona, who will serve a one-match suspension due to the season-long accumulation of yellow cards.
Feared by defenses in MLS, Atlanta boast a 42-goal tally on the season, and are second in MLS in goals per game with 1.83. Vital to their renowned front line, Tito Villalba, Josef Martinez and Miguel Almirón have combined for 27 of their goals so far this season, with Almirón and Yamil Asad recording a total of 19 assists. Asad’s 10 assists make him one of eight players in MLS this year that have reached that number and currently has him tied for fourth-most in the league.
Philadelphia Union (8-12-6)
Philadelphia managed to secure the last spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs last season with a 6th-placed finish in the Eastern Conference, and they look like they may be fighting for the same spot in 2017. Currently in 9th, the Union are six points below the playoff line so every point is crucial, especially against inter-conference competition.
Philadelphia boast a strong 7-4-2 record at home and they will hope to continue their form against Atlanta. Leading the front line for the Union has been forward CJ Sapong. The 28-year-old striker has been a key contributor over the past three seasons notching 28 goals, 12 of them this season (only one of 11 MLS players to hit the back of the net that many times in 2017).
Philadelphia also just got back one of their key pieces, with goalkeeper Andre Blake making his return last week after a hand injury suffered at this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Jamaican international has been a rock in goal for the Union over the past two seasons earning a spot in the 2016 MLS Best XI and winning the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year award. Across from the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Golden Glove Winner, in the other net will be U.S. international and previous Gold Cup Golden Glove winner, Brad Guzan for Atlanta United, so Saturday’s matchup will be one you won’t want to miss.
- FOX Sports Southeast
- FOX Sports GO