The Five Stripes are back in Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday as they host their red & black neighbors to the north, D.C. United. Atlanta (12-4-5) are coming off a 1-1 draw against Seattle last week and have only lost one out of their last nine league games, meanwhile D.C (3-7-5) have endured a rough start to the season currently sitting on the opposite end of the Eastern Conference table. But D.C. have a new face in town with English forward Wayne Rooney and a new home to play at in Audi Field where they won their opener last weekend, so this weekend’s match should be a fiery one.
The match is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. EST so make sure to tune in on Univision or watch a live stream of the English broadcast on Twitter. For all other ways to follow Saturday’s match, click here.
Atlanta United (12-4-5)
Atlanta United enters the match hungry for a home win after drawing last weekend against Seattle in a packed house at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. And they’ll be eager to extend their lead at the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings as well as they host the club with the second fewest points in the league this season. D.C. got the best of Atlanta in all three meetings between the sides last season, but in 2018, the Five Stripes won the matchup in their home opener and will hope to make it 2 out of 2 on Saturday.
Just as electric in front of net as last season, Atlanta United leads the league in goals with 43 already this year. And just like last season it’s their fearless front man spearheading the charge. Josef Martinez’s goal last Sunday brought his total to a whopping 19 goals through 21 games, seven more than his closest competitor in the Golden Boot race. The dynamic Venezuelan international can score in a number of ways whether it’s winning a foot race, out-jumping the central defenders, or deceiving the goalkeeper, and he’s proven that time and time again with a prolific 38 goals in 38 starts since joining the league last season.
In addition to Martinez, Miguel Almirón and Ezequiel Barco bring finesse, skill and distribution to the attack while Tito Villalba and Julian Gressel bring grittiness and a more direct set of eyes to the front line. But as scorching as the attack has been, their back line has been just as impressive. They’ve garnered two clean sheets in the last four games, allowed just seven goals in their last nine, and only four teams in the league have conceded less than Atlanta’s 24 this season. Brad Guzan and company will hope to return to winning ways in style with a 7th clean sheet on the season Saturday.
D.C. United (3-7-5)
D.C. have had a tough first half of the 2018 MLS season, currently sitting 2nd to the bottom in the Supporters’ Shield standings with just 14 points all year. However, it’s a long season and as everyone witnessed with Seattle’s MLS Cup run in 2016, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. D.C. may be last in the Eastern Conference, but they’ve only played 15 matches (3 or more less than all clubs) and they recently opened their new home at Audi Field last weekend with a bang, defeating Vancouver 3-1 so they are hoping to continue that momentum this Saturday on the road in Atlanta.
Not only was it a special night in the win column, but the Red & Black’s new signing – former England and Manchester United captain – Wayne Rooney made his debut in the Nation’s capital. While his appearance only came in the form of a second half substitution, his 30 minutes proved to be quite impactful, bringing a calming presence to the side, tallying an assist, and it’s likely his minutes will only increase as he integrates into his new club.
But even with the potential of Rooney making his first start, he isn’t the only dangerous asset up front to be wary of. Their joint leading scorer – one Atlanta fans know very well – is former ATL UTD midfielder Yamil Asad who currently has eight on the year including a wonder goal at Audi Field last weekend. Also leading the team with eight goals is Jamaican international Darren Mattocks and pulling the strings behind their top scorers – recording a combined 13 assists – are Argentine playmaker Luciano Acosta and U.S. international Paul Arriola. So despite their 2018 results, they’re well equipped to bounce back and they’re a hungry side coming off a historic victory with plenty of season left to play.
It’s a clash of the Eastern Conference United’s between Atlanta and D.C. so make sure to stay tuned on Univision or Twitter for the 3:30 p.m. EST kickoff on Saturday afternoon. For all the other ways to follow the match, click here.