Atlanta United (1-2-2) comes into the weekend looking for consecutive victories after taking down the New England Revolution on the road last Saturday. But they’ll be facing a tough opponent in FC Dallas (4-2-1), who are entering the match fresh off three straight wins at home and ARE currently tied for 4th in the Western Conference standings. It’s shaping up to be another thrilling meeting between two clubs who have split their two matchups in the past.
Ahead of the cross-conference tie, we broke down the Tools to the Match, presented by The Home Depot:
The Homegrown Heroes
FC Dallas has been at the forefront of the Homegrown movement in MLS over the past few years, signing young, local talent and giving them opportunities at the pro level. Now, a few of them are spearheading Dallas’s 2019 attack and making waves around the league including 19-year-old Paxton Pomykal and 18-year-old Jesus Ferreira. Clever with the ball but just as tenacious In defense, Pomykal is an engine in the midfield with plenty of class, while Ferreira brings energy, pace and creativity to the front line. Combined, the two have four goals and three assists already this season and they’ll hope to add to that tally Saturday –– so Atlanta will need to keep a keen eye on the teenagers all match.
Barco on the Ball
Last week Atlanta returned to their winning ways in dominant style over the Revolution, and the key to their fluid, attacking prowess was their Argentine youngster Ezequiel Barco. The 19-year-old midfielder subbed on early for the injured Eric Remedi, but looked as confident and comfortable as ever. He was smooth with the ball, positive with every pass and dangerous in the attack, scoring both goals in the 2-0 victory –– including the MLS Goal of the Week. Atlanta United will be hoping Barco’s MLS Player of the Week performance is just a small sign of what’s to come from the young playmaker. And to secure back-to-back wins, it will be crucial for the team to find his feet early and often.
The Fan Fortress
In Atlanta United’s two years in the league so far, they’ve already managed to form quite the home-field advantage at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The club has led MLS in attendance for the past two seasons, broken nearly every league attendance record and just this week, cracked the top 10 for highest average attendance in world soccer (from 2003 to 2018). After a stretch of a few road matches and breaks, Atlanta’s last home match was now over a month ago. Both players and fans will be itching to return to the rowdy and proud atmosphere at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and with the confidence of a convincing win last week, there’s no doubt Dallas will be walking into a hostile environment come Saturday afternoon.
The match is set to kick off Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. You can watch the match on ESPN, stream it on WatchESPN or listen in on 92.9 The Game or in Spanish at La Mejor Atlanta. For more details on how to follow along from home, click here.