On Saturday, Atlanta United (8-3-2) returns to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to host Eastern Conference opponent the Philadelphia Union (5-5-3). Atlanta are looking to get back to winning ways and extend their lead at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings, while Philadelphia hopes to build off a decisive midweek win over Chicago. With the roof of the stadium set to be open for the first time this season, this is a match you don’t want to miss, make sure to secure your ticket here.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on FOX Sports Southeast or you can stream via FOX Sports GO. For all the other ways to follow along with the match, click here.
Atlanta United (8-3-2)
ATL UTD are entering the match after a frustrating 1-1 draw in New England where missed opportunities came back to hurt them as the Revs scored a late equalizer from the spot. But while Wednesday didn’t end with a W, their road form still remains the best in the league and they continue to sit atop the Eastern Conference table and the Supporters’ Shield standings.
Leading the team’s scoring charge that currently bests MLS with 27 goals on the season is Venezuelan international Josef Martinez. The forward’s strike on Wednesday night marked his 9th goal on the year which puts him alone at the top of the league’s Golden Boot race. Behind him, pulling the strings from the midfield with their poise on the ball and slick passing are Miguel Almirón and Darlington Nagbe. Meanwhile one of the league’s Newcomer of the Year candidates 19 –year-old Ezequiel Barco continues to show glimpses of brilliance with three goals in his last five matches after recovering from injury.
Despite only one win in their four matches, Atlanta boast one of the strongest back lines this season as well as a +10 goal differential that ranks third best in the league. Led by a steady Michael Parkhurst in the center, the defense has been impressive even with a number of injuries shuffling the line week to week, the most recent of which will see Greg Garza undergo shoulder surgery and likely miss the remainder of the regular season. But there are plenty of promising signs as this week saw the return of a healthy Chris McCann and Franco Escobar to the lineup and Leandro González Pirez will once again be available on Saturday after serving a one-match suspension. So head coach Tata Martino will have a good headache determining who will start in their quest to take down the Union at home.
Philadelphia Union (5-5-3)
Over a third of the way through the regular season, Philadelphia sits just outside of the playoff line at 7th in the East. But they know it’s a long year and as long as they stay in the conversation, there’s plenty of time for them to hit their stride. And they have as of late, with their best run of form yet winning three out of their last four matches including a statement win over Chicago midweek.
The Union’s center is anchored by a pair of strong, intelligent, box-to-box midfielders in U.S. Men’s National Team veteran Alejandro Bedoya and Bosnian international Haris Medunjanin. Philadelphia also has two rocks locking down the front and back of the lineup with Jamaican international and 2016 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake defending the net and towering forward C.J. Sapong up top who is coming off his best season yet with 16 goals and five assists in 2017.
But at the true helm of every Union movement moving forward is their lethal attacking trio across the front line. On the right, midfielder Ilsinho brings a bit of Brazilian imagination and on the other wing, offseason addition David Accam compliments his counterpart with pace and penetrating runs. And in the center, who’s quickly grabbed the Philly headlines this season, is Czech international Borek Dockal. The 29-year-old newcomer joined Philly on loan in February under a DP contract and with nifty footwork, classy passing, and uncanny playmaking abilities he’s slid into the number 10 role with ease already recording three goals and six assists.
The intense midfield matchup will just be one small piece of an exciting intra-conference battle between Atlanta and Philadelphia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Make sure to tune in Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. EST on FOX Sports Southeast or FOX Sports GO. Click here for all the ways to follow along with the match.