Atlanta United are experiencing a magical run so far in their Mercedes-Benz Stadium journey and are hoping that continues on Saturday against Eastern Conference foes Orlando City. Atlanta (12-8-6) enter the match coming off 3-0 and 7-0 dominant victories while Orlando (9-12-7) are hoping to spoil the expansion side’s homecoming week and turn their season around.
Ahead of Saturday’s matchup, we broke down the Tools to the Match presented by Home Depot:
1) Martinez Marvel
Forward Josef Martinez has missed a chunk of matches with injury this season but still leads Atlanta United with 13 goals, averaging a goal every 72.7 minutes – the best rate in the league (min. 3 goals). The 24-year-old has already tallied two hat-tricks this season including a three-goal first half on Wednesday where Atlanta swept New England aside with a 7-0 score line inside their new home. Orlando has yet to face the Venezuelan international, so they will have their hands full trying to figure out how to contain one of the most dynamic strikers in the league.
2) Home Hype
It may be the club’s inaugural season, but there is no doubt that Atlanta boasts one of the toughest atmospheres for opposing teams in all of MLS. With 11 straight sellouts and an average of 45,000+ in attendance, the Atlanta faithful have built a fortress in the heart of the ATL and Saturday will prove to be only more invigorating as more than 69,256 tickets have already been distributed for the match – a single-game record for MLS. With around 70K fans expected to pack into Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it will be difficult for Orlando to crack Atlanta’s eight-match unbeaten streak at home.
3) Tito the Lion Tamer
Though struggling for the second half of the season, Orlando have performed fairly strong against the league newcomers in their first two meetings. But late-game heroics from forward Tito Villalba in both matchups saw the results sway in Atlanta United’s favor. First, his game-winning wonder strike stunned the crowd in Orlando, and eight days later his stoppage-time equalizer extinguished any hope of revenge for the Lions in Atlanta. Villalba has their number, and Orlando certainly hasn’t forgotten about his.
How to Follow
You can catch all the action between Atlanta United and Orlando City on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 4:00 p.m. EST on Univision or Facebook LIVE via the Univision Deportes Facebook page. Click here for all details on how to follow the match.