Tools to the Match: How Atlanta United can advance to the SCCL semifinals

On Wednesday, Atlanta United fight for their Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League survival as they host C.F. Monterrey in the second leg of the quarterfinals. After Rayados took leg 1 last week in Mexico, Atlanta will be hoping to return the favor with their own home-field advantage and overcome a 3-0 aggregate deficit. The match kicks off at 8 p.m. ET, click here for details on how to follow the international clash.

Ahead of Wednesday’s second leg on Atlanta, we broke down the Tools to the Match presented by Home Depot.

Quick in Transition

The most success Atlanta United has had in the Champions League thus far was their matchup against CS Herediano at home where they opened up the floodgates in a 4-0 scoreline. That night, they showed the electric, exciting soccer that Atlanta United has become known for – quick and intentional in transition, finding players in space and carefully picking out the final pass. Atlanta had to fight to overcome a deficit in that second leg vs Herediano, just like they must on Wednesday as well. While up in aggregate, don’t expect Monterrey to sit back, they will be dangerous as they were in Mexico, looking for an away goal to all but seal it. However, it also leaves opportunity for Atlanta to take advantage of the exposed space behind, put a few in the back of the net and make for an interesting finish in Leg 2.

Martinez’s Reign in MBS

Last week in Mexico, the ball didn’t find Josef Martinez as much as Atlanta United would have preferred, but Sunday, in their regular season home opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it only took minutes before he left his mark. The reigning MLS Golden Boot winner is coming off a record-breaking 31-goal season and in addition, scored in every playoff match held at MBS during their magical MLS Cup run. Pacy, athletic and technical, Martinez is one of the most dynamic scorers the league has ever seen, posing an equal threat on the ground and in the air. Coming off his 2019 MLS debut goal, Martinez will be fired up to find the net for the 17s again on Wednesday. And with their multi-goal deficit, Atlanta’s best chance to making up ground will be to get their front man as many touches as possible.

Defend Dorlan

Monterrey looked sharp in the first leg, but one man stood above the rest – Dorlan Pabón. The Colombian international caused a lot of trouble for the Atlanta United back line, directly involved in all three of the home side’s goals. He is equal parts pace and skill and has a lethal shot if given just the slightest bit of space. He proved that with his goal in Leg 1, using his craft on the ball to cause hesitation, create separation and fire off a blistering strike. To lock it down Wednesday in MBS, Atlanta’s central players – both in defense and in the midfield – must be in constant communication to make sure Pabón has no space to work with.

The match is set to kick off at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta. You can watch the match on ESPN or listen in on Star 94.1 or La Mejor Atlanta. For more details on how to follow Leg 2, click here.