190315_PHIPreview

Match Preview: Atlanta United vs Philadelphia Union

Atlanta United look to host their third match in a week as they take on the Philadelphia Union in Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sunday evening. Atlanta are coming off a 1-1 draw in their home opener and a midweek 1-0 win over Mexican giants CF Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions League, while Philadelphia are hoping to bounce back after two consecutive losses to start the season.

Two Eastern Conference sides looking to prove themselves early this season and it all starts at 7 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 17th. Click here for all the information on how to tune in to the match on St. Patrick’s Day.

Atlanta United (0-1-1)

Atlanta enter Sunday’s matchup hot off the heels of a strong result at home against Liga MX side Rayados, and while they ultimately fell short in advancing to the next round in the Champions League, Wednesday’s performance showed a number of promising signs for the Atlanta faithful. The Five Stripes were as electric as they always strive to be, rock solid in defense, tidy in possession, quick on the counter and producing some magical moments that nearly propelled them over Rayados in the international competition. But with their Champions League debut run officially over, they can shift complete focus to the MLS regular season and defending their MLS Cup crown.

Other than the result, perhaps most notable on Wednesday night was the unrelenting performance from 2017 SuperDraft selection Miles Robinson. Time and time again when his name was called in the center of defense he stood up for the challenge, winning every tackle, every 50/50, and Robinson – along with Captain Michael Parkhurst, Jeff Larentowicz and Goalkeeper Brad Guzan – was able to completely shut down one of the most prolific strikers in North America in Rogelio Funes Mori. The back line kept one of the continent’s elite clubs out of net earlier this week and they’ll be hoping to record another clean sheet come Sunday night. Leandro González Pirez with also be available for selection after serving a one-match suspension from yellow card accumulation.

In addition to the defensive prowess put on display, it was the return of the electric attack that Five Stripes fans in Mercedes-Benz Stadium roared on all night. From the center, Darlington Nagbe and Eric Remedi controlled the midfield and fed the front line all night, Ezequiel Barco showed pure confidence on the ball, Julian Gressel was as technically and tactically sharp as ever and newcomer Pity Martinez displayed glimpses of world-class playmaking magic to come. But perhaps most importantly for the final third, reigning Golden Boot winner Josef Martinez continued on his scoring tear bringing his goal tally to four in all competitions so far to start this season.

Philadelphia Union (0-2-0)

Philadelphia Union have endured a tough start to the season, falling to Toronto 3-1 in their season opener at home and then losing to a mid-Champions League Sporting KC side on the road. Though plagued with penalty decisions, they’ve kept themselves in the competition for the 90-minute stints thus far, but conceding late in both matches have left the margin on the scoreline greater than the game’s true story.

But it’s early on in the season and while results haven’t been ideal, Philadelphia’s stars have shown promise for what could be in 2019. Jamaican international and 2016 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake looks as poised as ever in net, already recording some highlight-reel saves and stopping a penalty against Toronto. Bolstering the spine of the team is also center back Auston Trusty – who was recently called in to the U.S. Men’s National Team January Camp – and U.S. international Alejandro Bedoya and Bosnian international Haris Medunjanin who compliment each other in the center of the park.

Their attacking firepower this season has stemmed from a few main sources. Just like last season, Brazilian Ilsinho brings his craft, ambition and killer instincts to the wing, with a tendency to cut in and attack from the center. With C.J. Sapong’s departure over the offseason, Fafa Picault and Cory Burke have taken on the load up front to wreak havoc and provide a presence up front. And possibly their biggest signing of the year and ever – as it was marked as a club-record deal – Mexican international Marco Fabian has brought European experience and class to the side pulling the strings in midfield, but the Union will be without their new playmaker on Sunday while Fabian serves a red card suspension from their Sporting KC matchup.

Follow along:

Sunday’s match kicks off at 7 p.m. EST, and will be broadcast on FOX Sports South and FOX Sports Go. You can also listen in on Star 94.1 FM or the Atlanta United app –– and with another home spectacle at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the cards, it will be one you won’t want to miss. Click here for everything you need to know about how to follow the match.

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