Match Preview: Atlanta United vs Seattle Sounders

The Five Stripes have returned from a long week on the road bounced back from a midweek loss in convincing fashion with a 2-0 victory in Philadelphia. Now Atlanta United (12-4-4) gets the chance to defend their place at the top of the Supporters’ Shield Standings as they host the Seattle Sounders (4-9-4) for the first time in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Last year the teams battled to a 0-0 draw in front of the Sounders faithful in the clubs’ only  other meeting, but this season, Atlanta gets to show their West Coast counterparts the definition of Rowdy & Proud.

Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. EST, so make sure to stay tuned on FOX following Sunday’s FIFA World Cup Final to catch Atlanta vs Seattle. For those who have a ticket to Sunday’s match, get to Mercedes-Benz Stadium early (gates open at 10:30 a.m.) to get some food, sit back, relax and view the World Cup Final on the Halo Board. Click here for all the other ways to follow the match.

Atlanta United (12-4-4)

After a full week away from home, the red, black & gold are ready to return to the friendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They enter Sunday’s match fresh off an impressive 2-0 victory over the Union where Josef Martinez scored his league-leading 18th goal of the season and a stunning passing sequence resulted in a Goal of the Week-worthy play finished off by Tito Villalba. It was an important win for Atlanta as they continue to sit atop the Eastern Conference as well as the Supporters’ Shield standings.

In their impressive 2018 run thus far, no team has scored more goals than the Five Stripes’ 42 and no individual has found the net more than their #7 up front in Josef Martinez, who leads the Golden Boot race with 18 on the year. The Venezuelan international has been scoring at a historic rate since joining the league last season, including 37 goals in just 37 starts and already five hat tricks in his pocket – which ties the all-time MLS record. Pulling the strings behind him has been Miguel Almirón, who’s put in an MVP-caliber season thus far with eight goals and nine assists. Next to him, the young, nifty Ezequiel Barco and the pacey, powerful Tito Villalba tear up the flanks, while Darlington Nagbe’s absence in the center has been filled strongly and steadily by Tata Martino’s go-to utility man, Julian Gressel.

But perhaps just as telling as their attacking form, their 2018 performance in the back has been stellar. In their last eight matches, the Five Stripes have lost just one game and allowed multiple goals on only one occasion during that span. Their 23 goals conceded this season is the 4th-least allowed in all of MLS and only three goalkeepers have recorded more clean sheets than Brad Guzan’s six. And his tandem center backs in captain Michael Parkhurst and Leandro González Pirez have continued to fortify their bond in now their second year together.

Seattle Sounders (4-9-4)

While Atlanta is enjoying their best start in their young history, Seattle is enduring one of their toughest to date. The Sounders currently sit 10th in the Western Conference standings, 10 points below the playoff line, and their 15 goals on the season is the lowest in the league. However, there is still plenty of season left, and the Sounders know more than anyone that you can’t count anyone out just yet at this point in the season as they lifted themselves from the bottom of the standings to the playoffs to MLS Cup Champions in 2016. Seattle has yet to miss the postseason since joining the league in 2009, so expect a fight out of them all the way through decision day.

Their first blow came in preseason when their goal-scoring front man Jordan Morris went down with a season-ending ACL injury. The brawny Will Bruin has stepped in just as last year, and is on pace to match his 11 goals last season as well as adding four assists, which is second best on the team. The club is hoping new signing Raúl Ruidíaz can solve their goal-scoring drought, but his status for this weekend remains uncertain. Meanwhile, their midfield is still a force to be reckoned with on any given day with the tricky Nicolás Lodeiro at the helm, and Víctor Rodríguez and Cristian Roldan complimenting him with their ability to distribute and cover ground.

Despite the tough season, Seattle is coming off a strong week of results on the road where they earned a 2-1 victory in Colorado and fought to a draw and clean sheet against New England. Postseason has been in their destiny ever since joining the league, and they have no reason to think 2018 should be any different. So count on the Sounders to be a gritty, hungry, tenacious side looking to steer their season back on track.

It’s East vs West in a historic matchup between Atlanta United and the Seattle Sounders so make sure to stay tuned on FOX for the 2:00 p.m. EST kickoff following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final. The match will also be available for streaming via FOX Sports GO and for all the other ways to follow the match, click here.