With four straight wins in their pocket, Atlanta United look to continue climbing the table this weekend as they host their Eastern Conference opponents from the Big Apple. ATL UTD (4-1-0) hopes to stay unbeaten at home while NYCFC (5-0-1) defends their spot at the top of the Supporters’ Shield race. With two of the hottest sides in MLS facing off, Sunday night’s matchup is sure to be an electric affair. Make sure you’re there for the showdown by securing your ticket here.
The match kicks off at 6:00 p.m. EST and will be nationally broadcast on FS1. Click here for all the details on how to follow along with the match.
Atlanta United (4-1-0)
As the first few weeks of the 2018 season pass, Atlanta United shows more and more that their opening loss in Houston was just a aberration. Since, the Five Stripes have won four straight with two consecutive clean sheets including a 5-0 rout of expansion side LAFC last week. Over the course of their streak, Atlanta have notched 13 goals while only allowing two, and they still remain unbeaten at home inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium this year.
Leading the goal-scoring escapade this year again is forward Josef Martinez. The Venezuelan’s five goals in 2017 have brought him to a total 24 goals in just 25 matches played, setting an MLS record. Also automatic this season has been reigning MLS Rookie of the Year Julian Gressel, who already has a goal and three assists to his name from the wingback position. And in the middle of the park, Miguel Almirón and Darlington Nagbe have dazzled the with their pristine technical ability and quickness. In addition to a potential fifth-straight victory, Five Stripes fans will also be excited for the possibility of record signing Ezequiel Barco making his MLS debut after returning to training this week following a quad injury.
Just like last season, their electric attack has grabbed many of the headlines, but at the back they’ve been rock solid in their current unbeaten streak. Now with two straight clean sheets and only two goals allowed in the past four matches, Atlanta is riding a +7 goal differential (2nd best in the league only to NYCFC). And as they host the boys in blue from New York, they will be happy to have defender Leandro González Pirez return to the lineup after serving his red card suspension last week.
New York City FC (5-0-1)
NYCFC is off to a hot start in 2018, unbeaten through six matches and sitting atop the Supporters’ Shield race, leading MLS in goals scored and goal differential. In a league where it’s difficult to compete on the road, NYCFC have been impressive as when away from home, losing just one of their last nine road matches stretching back to last season, only conceding multiple goals on one occasion over that stretch. However, Patrick Vieira’s men have never played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, so the Five Stripe faithful will be eager to throw them off course.
At the heart of the New York City FC attack and pulling the strings is Argentine midfielder Maximiliano Morález. The 5’3” DP doesn’t boast a physical presence, but his intelligence and craftiness on the ball makes him a menace in the center of the park, already recording four goals and two assists thus far this season. Also key to their 2018 success has been new addition Jesus Medina. The quick 20-year-old Paraguayan has been lights out on the wing, leading the side with five assists and tacking on a goal as well.
New York City fans can be more than happy with their team’s success considering three crucial pieces from last year have been recently missing from the NYCFC lineup. Midfielder Alexander Ring, forward Rodney Wallace and 2016 MLS MVP David Villa have been sidelined due to injury, but all featured on the matchday roster against RSL on Wednesday night. So Sunday will not only feature the top two sides in the Eastern Conference, but both could see the return of some of their top names.
Sunday night will be a contest of two of the most electric clubs in MLS, so you won’t want to miss a minute of this one. Make sure to tune in on FS1 for the 6:00 p.m. EST kickoff and for all the other ways to follow the match, click here.