Coming off two dominant wins to kick off Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta United (12-8-6) will try to keep that streak alive against Orlando City (9-12-7) on Saturday. This will be the third time the Eastern Conference rivals will play this season, but there will be new faces on the field for the opponents. Here’s what Five Stripes fans can expect:
Kaká caused fits for Atlanta United’s back line in the teams’ two prior meetings, and scored the only goal for the Lions over 180 minutes. But with the Brazilian legend set to miss Saturday’s matchup due to accumulation of yellow cards, Orlando will rely heavily on its two newest midfield additions – MLS veteran Dillon Powers and new DP signing Yoshi Yotún – for much of their creativity going forward. Orlando will do everything they can to find Yotún for short, quick passes in between the midfield and defense in the attacking third as much as possible, a strategy that worked well in the team’s 2-1 win over D.C. United last weekend. Atlanta will have to keep constant pressure on the Peruvian playmaker to make sure he doesn’t get ample time on the ball.
After one of the league’s best starts, Orlando City is trying to rebound from its worst slide in team history. Last weekend’s 2-1 win over D.C United was its first win in nine games – with six losses in that span – a club record in the team’s three MLS seasons. That doesn’t mean Atlanta will have an easy run on Saturday. While their playoff chances may be dwindling, Orlando City will be hoping to spark some winning momentum. And after two late goals to deny Orlando points in the teams’ last two meetings, the purple and gold will be hungry for revenge and a chance to douse Atlanta’s heat.
Bendik In Net
Christian Higuita in midfield and Jonathan Spector on the back line will both play key roles for Orlando as they try to stop this Atlanta United attack that’s scored ten goals in their past two matches. But when Atlanta does create chances, they have an especially tough task in beating the Orlando goalkeeper. No team has asked more of their goalkeeper than Orlando City, with Joe Bendik leading the league in shots saved. But he’s stepped up, with an MLS-best 95 saves, nearly three and a half saves per game.
If you can’t make it to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, make sure to tune in on TV or the radio. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m., with the match set to be broadcast on Univision and Facebook LIVE, as well as our radio partners, 92.9 The Game and La Mejor Atlanta. The club has already broken the attendance record, with more than 70,000 fans expected in the stadium for the match. Make sure you’re there to witness history by securing your ticket here.