Atlanta United will hope to bounce back from their week one disappointment in the friendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium this weekend as they host D.C. United in their 2018 home debut. D.C. United was the only team to take all possible points from Atlanta last year, so motivation will not be a problem for the Five Stripes this weekend. But there’s been a few changes to the opposing side this offseason. Here’s what the red, black and gold can expect from their counterparts on Saturday:
Atlanta United fans won’t need much introduction to the newest addition to D.C. United’s wing. Yamil Asad, the Five Stripes’ mainstay on the wing last year, made the move to the nation’s capital over the offseason and made an immediate impact, securing a goal and man-of-the-match honors in matchday one. The red, black and gold know Asad’s workrate, strength and possession skills well, and will have to be wary of the Argentine during D.C.’s patented counterattacks. Atlanta United’s new fullback Franco Escobar brings plenty of energy and pace of his own on the defensive side of the ball, so it should be quite a matchup on that side of the field.
The Flying Jamaican
D.C. also made a change at the striker position in the offseason, with MLS veteran Darren Mattocks making the move from the Portland Timbers last year. Born in the same Jamaican city as Atlanta United’s Romario Williams, Mattocks brings speed and athleticism to the D.C. attack. Mattocks is at his best when he’s getting behind defenses and stretching them out with his speed on the ball and laying passes off to his more technical midfielders. Atlanta United can expect to dominate possession against a team that’s happy to sit back and defend, but they will have to stay disciplined defensively to avoid getting caught napping by D.C.’s speedy attack.
A New Netminder
Bill Hamid was the kryptonite to Atlanta United’s attack last year, coming up with a number of unbelievable saves to frustrate the Five Stripes’ high-flying attack. But the American international left in the offseason to pastures new in Europe over the offseason, with MLS veteran Dave Ousted coming in as his replacement. Ousted is no slouch himself, with the two-time MLS All Star leading the league in clean sheets back in 2015. But regardless of a player’s quality, Hamid leaves big shoes to fill and Atlanta United will be happy to see their 2017 nemesis out from between the goalposts.
Follow the Match
Kickoff is set for 3:00 p.m. ET and will be nationally broadcast on ESPN. You can listen to the game on the Atlanta United app or through one of our radio partners: WAOK 1380 AM or, for Spanish-speaking listeners, La Mejor Atlanta. Click here for a full rundown of how to follow along with the game.