180423_MTL_Preview

Match Preview: Atlanta United vs Montreal Impact

It’s been a red-hot stretch for Atlanta United, who have surged up the Supporters’ Shield standings over the past month, and they’ll be looking to keep that momentum going as they host the Montreal Impact at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The teams split their two meetings last year, but as the Five Stripes have the chance to go top of the Eastern Conference, this is one you won’t want to miss.

The match kicks off at 1:00 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on FOX Sports South and FOX Sports GO. Click here for all the details on how to follow along with the match.

Atlanta United (5-1-1)

Atlanta United’s thrilling attack is as strong as it’s ever been, with the team sitting second in the league in goals and striker Josef Martinez leading the league with six. Miguel Almirón and Darlington Nagbe continue to gel into one of the premier attacking midfields in all of MLS, while Julian Gressel has built on his Rookie of the Year season, growing into one of the best chance-creators in MLS from the wingback position. And the attack is only getting better, with offseason signing Ezequiel Barco showing incredible promise in his first start for the team last weekend against the Galaxy. The 19-year-old’s nifty ball control and pinpoint passing were a handful for defenders last weekend, and fans of the red, black and gold will be ready to see him potentially get his first start at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

While the offense will always grab the headlines, the Five Stripes’ defense is once again turning into a force at the back, with goalkeeper Brad Guzan now tied for the league lead in clean sheets. Since the season’s disappointing opening-day loss, the red, black and gold have conceded just four goals in six games, with three shutouts in that frame. Jeff Larentowicz’s towering midfield presence shielding Tata Martino’s three-man back line has proven a to be a nut too tough to crack, even for star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who didn’t muster a single shot last weekend in Los Angeles. The offensive dynamism and defensive strength are combining perfectly, with Atlanta United now tied for the league lead in goal differential (+9).

Montreal Impact (2-5-0)

The Montreal Impact are trying to bounce back after a disappointing loss last weekend that now have them sitting with five defeats in just seven matches so far this year. After jumping to a 2-0 early lead, a first-half red card for defender Victor Cabrera let new boys LAFC back into the game and the Western Conference upstarts came out 5-3 winners. But they still have one of the most dangerous attackers in MLS lining up on their left wing in Ignacio “Nacho” Piatti. An MLS All-Star the past two years, a member of the 2016 MLS Best XI and the three-time Montreal Impact Most Valuable Player, Piatti has scored 17 goals and assisted 6 each of the past two seasons, and has already put in a team-high 4 goals this year.

The Canadians have struggled, however, to replace captain Laurent Ciman, their rock in the back line that left for LAFC in the offseason. The Impact have conceded 17 goals in seven games, the most in the league so far this season. In the team’s five road matches, the Impact have conceded 12 goals and only managed to win one. But don’t count this Impact team out. With an elite attacker and a goalkeeper in Evan Bush in fine form, the Impact have the tools to pull off an upset against anyone –– and they will be eager to get back on track after showing signs of early promise last week.

Saturday’s match should be an exciting one as two teams with flowing offenses go toe-to-toe at the always-raucous Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Make sure you tune in on FOX Sports South for the 1:00 p.m. EST kickoff, and for all the other ways to follow the match, click here.

Topics: