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Match Preview: Atlanta United vs Orlando City

Following a monumental week for Atlanta United as they opened their new home in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the expansion side host their third match in six days against Orlando City. Atlanta (12-8-6) hope to continue an eight-match unbeaten streak in the ATL, while Orlando (9-12-7) look to build momentum on their recent win over D.C. following a disappointing winless streak for the Lions.

The match presented by The Home Depot Foundation is set to kick off at 4:00 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on Univision and Facebook LIVE via the Univision Deportes Facebook page.

Atlanta United (12-8-6)

Hot at home would be an understatement. After losing two of their first three MLS home games, Atlanta is now unbeaten in their last eight – outscoring the opposition 26-6 over that time – and have only dropped one match in their last ten regular season matches. In the midst of climbing the table, Atlanta now sit at fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a few games in hand on the rest of their competition. Since opening their new home in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they’ve scored 10 times and have yet to concede a single goal and will hope to continue that form on Saturday against Orlando.

Head coach Tata Martino has established an attractive, attacking, fast-paced identity for the league newcomers who have now tallied a total of 54 goals through 26 matches, only Toronto has scored more with 59.

Spearheading the impressive number is their young, South American contingent up front. Venezuelan international Josef Martinez has missed a chunk of matches with injury this season but still leads his team with 13 goals and is averaging a goal every 72.7 minutes – the best rate in the league (min. 3 goals). Next to him, stepping out of his regular role at times to fill in for Martinez and always a threat on the field, forward Tito Villalba has recorded 11 of his own. Pulling the strings behind them and exploiting the gaps in the opposition are Miguel Almirón and Yamil Asad who have tallied a combined 22 assists.

The attack has been the center of attention for most of the year, but it’s the team’s effort on the other side of the ball that has proven extremely impressive as of late, with their 32 goals this season ranking third best in the league and their +22 goal differential ranking second. Led by U.S. international goalkeeper Brad Guzan and team captain Michael Parkhurst, Atlanta will look to maintain their clean sheet record inside the walls of their new home as they face Orlando in the clubs’ third matchup of the year.

Orlando City (9-12-7)

Orlando kicked off their 2017 campaign with an impressive and exciting start, opening their new stadium and winning six out of their first seven matches. But the story has since significantly changed, recently going on an eight-game winless streak – the worst in their MLS franchise history – and now sitting near the bottom of the table, currently out of the playoff picture. However, Orlando hopes to take the momentum of last Saturday’s victory over D.C. and try to salvage their season in this final stretch.

To capture their first win against their northern neighbors in Atlanta, they’ll need their two feared forwards in Cyle Larin and Dom Dwyer to start clicking and hitting the back of the net as the team’s 29 goals ranks third worst in the league this season. Canadian international Larin is their shining star up top and has recorded 11 of his side’s goals this year, but he’s only scored three of those since the start of June. Meanwhile Dwyer, the recently capped U.S. international and the club’s record-signing that joined from Sporting KC in July has yet to find the net and has only contributed one assist in the six matches he’s played.

But Orlando will need someone to step up and orchestrate the attack on Saturday as the Lions will have to make-do without their usual playmaker, former Ballon d’Or and Brazilian international Kaká who is suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation.

After having a draw and a win essentially stolen from them – conceding in the final minutes – in their last two matches against Atlanta, Orlando will be hungry for revenge as they take the field in Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time this weekend.

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