Coming into their own in the final stretch of the season, Atlanta United (15-8-7) are riding a seven-match unbeaten streak and skyrocketing up the Eastern Conference table. The expansion side will hope to continue their hot form – after clinching a playoff with their most recent victory over the Union – as they travel north to face New England (11-15-5) this weekend. The Revolution will hope for a taste of revenge after suffering a 7-0 loss in Atlanta in the reverse fixture just weeks ago.
The match is set to kick off Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on FOX Sports Southeast and streamed live via FOX Sports GO.
Atlanta United (15-8-7)
Hot off the heels of their playoff-clinching victory at home on Wednesday over the Philadelphia Union, Atlanta are riding a train of momentum heading into their first game away in over a month. They’ve enjoyed a six-match home stand where they captured five wins and a draw, remaining undefeated inside their new home of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Now it’s time to carry that form on the road.
Sitting in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, Atlanta United are gunning for a high playoff seed with four matches remaining in their inaugural MLS regular season. Led by head coach Tata Martino, the exciting, fast-paced attack of the expansion side has captured the hearts of the club’s supporters and turned heads around the league.
Continuing to lead the electric attack is Atlanta United’s South American contingent up front starting with Venezuelan international Josef Martinez who sits just two goals behind the Golden Boot lead with 18 goals on the year – scoring nine of those in their recent prolific home stretch and notching three hat-tricks this season. The 24-year-old is also averaging a goal every 71 minutes, the best rate in the league (min. 3 goals).
In addition to Martinez up top are young, Argentine wingers Tito Villalba and Yamil Asad who have tallied a combined 18 goals and 22 assists and were also named to the MLS 24 Under 24 list (top players under the age of 24) this week. Between them, normally at the helm of the attack and also Atlanta’s third MLS 24 Under 24 player is one of the league’s top playmakers in Miguel Almirón. But the Paraguayan international suffered a hamstring injury last week against Montreal that has him sidelined for a minimum of three weeks.
However, Five Stripes fans can feel a sense of relief after this week’s victories as the team’s “next man up” mentality has proven itself once again. MLS SuperDraft selection Julian Gressel stepped into the role for the remainder of the match as well as their midweek contest vs Philadelphia and the German delivered with strong performances. Tallying two assists and a goal, the Rookie of the Year candidate will hope to replicate his recent form on the road Saturday vs New England.
New England Revolution (11-15-5)
The Revolution will try to redeem themselves after a miserable match in Atlanta where two early red cards saw the visitors play the majority of the match outmanned and in the end, outscored 7-0. But despite their winless road woes, New England have won six-straight home games in league play, tied for the second-longest streak in team history. They have conceded four goals and kept four clean sheets over this span, matching the number of clean sheets they had in their first nine home games this season.
Driving New England’s attack is, now household name up north, Lee Nguyen, one of the most productive MLS midfielders ever to hit the field and he hasn’t slowed down in 2017 as his vision and cleverness have already earned him 11 goals and 15 assists this year. If he earns another assist, the U.S. international would become the 18th player in league history with 50+ goals and 50+ assists.
In front of Nguyen lie one of the most lethal duos in the league in Kei Kamara and Juan Agudelo, who have combined for 20 goals so far this season. With both posing physical, aerial threats, and Teal Bunbury and Kelyn Rowe flying up and down the wings, Atlanta will have their hands full with a fierce Revolution front line.
New England boast a strong home record, but they will be facing one of the most road resilient teams in MLS this year. Atlanta have conceded an average of 1.4 goals per road game this season, the fourth fewest in the league and have earned 17 points away from home, only three teams have tallied more. Both sides are fighting for the final, crucial points of the season, so this will be a matchup you don’t want to miss.
- FOX Sports Southeast
- FOX Sports GO