Atlanta United (10-8-6) make their long-awaited Mercedes-Benz Stadium debut this Sunday, with FC Dallas (9-7-10) coming to town for the first-ever meeting between the two clubs. FC Dallas have recently slipped down the Western Conference standings, but some key players returning make the perennial Supporters’ Shield contenders as dangerous as ever. Here’s what Atlanta United fans can expect from their next opponent:
Despite falling down a man against New York Red Bulls in their last match, FC Dallas was able to fight back twice to secure a hard-fought point. That’s due in large part to the return of their primary creative force over the past few years, Mauro Diaz, in the center of the field. Dallas will look to get the ball to the feet of Diaz as much as possible, who tends to pull the strings at the helm of their attack.
But he’s not alone in playmaking duties – in Diaz’s absence, midfielder Michael Barrios has picked up the slack in the creative department, ranking third in the league with 13 assists this season. Dallas’s pass-first, counter-attacking style may be the most similar offense to Atlanta United’s of anyone in the league, and Atlanta will be hoping to suffocate those two pass-masters if they hope to pull off a win in their new home.
After a two-week break and a disappointing road trip, Atlanta United players are eager to get back to winning ways, but FC Dallas are in desperate need of three points themselves. Despite consistently finishing near the top of the Western Conference over the past few seasons, FC Dallas has endured a serious dip in form as of late. The team is winless in seven games with four losses in that time, the longest they’ve gone without a win since an eight-match stretch back in 2014. The return of Diaz gave the squad a lift in their past match, but Atlanta United can still feel confident in their home form. After losing two of their three first home games, Atlanta United is unbeaten in their last six, with five wins and a +10 goal differential in that time.
The recent international break meant several players on both teams have been away from the team for a bulk of the past week. With those international players coming into the match on a short turnaround, there’s still a question about who will be fully fit and who will be rested for the match on Sunday. Miguel Almirón, Josef Martinez and Brad Guzan have all returned to full training, but FC Dallas had five players out on international duty themselves: Kellyn Acosta (USA), Matt Hedges (USA), Tesho Akindele (Canada), Maynor Figueroa (Honduras) and Carlos Gruezo (Ecuador). Fans will be eagerly awaiting starting lineups to see who is ready to make their club return this weekend.
Follow the Match
If you couldn’t get a spot inside Atlanta United’s latest sell-out, make sure to tune in on TV or radio. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m., with the match set to be broadcast on Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes or Fox Sports Go, as well as our radio partners, 92.9 The Game or La Mejor Atlanta. Make sure you don’t miss out on the next match, against the New England Revolution on Wednesday, by getting your tickets here.