The Five Stripes are back in action as Atlanta United returns to Mercedes-Benz Stadium this Saturday to host Western Conference foes the Colorado Rapids. Atlanta is looking to get back to winning ways after falling just short in a commanding performance against FC Dallas last weekend while Colorado is hoping to kickstart their season with their first victory of the season.
Tickets for the match are still available here. If you can’t make it to the stadium, you can catch all the action at 6:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports Southeast. For all the details on how to tune in to the match, click here.
Atlanta United (1-3-2)
Despite coming off a championship season in just their second year, Atlanta United have had a tough start to their 2019 campaign. A short offseason, a new coaching staff and a congested schedule with Champions League competition have the reigning champs starting lower in the table than they had hoped. But a convincing win against the Revolution and a promising performance against FC Dallas have the team looking rejuvenated.
A star that’s on the rise and who’s played a critical role in their recent uptick is 20-year-old Ezequiel Barco. The shifty Argentine signed with the club last season, and after settling into his new country, has come into his own in 2019. Slick on the ball with an eye for the killer pass and for the goal, Barco leads his side with three goals this season including a brace that earned them their first MLS win of the season a few weeks ago. Also joining him in the attack are the pacey Tito Villalba, the tidy Julian Gressel, the nifty Pity Martínez and up front the reigning Golden Boot winner in Josef Martinez.
But they’re just as reinforced in the back with MLS veteran Michael Parkhurst, U.S. international Brad Guzan and Leandro González Pirez leading the defense as well as the young Miles Robinson bolstering the lineup – having a breakout season as one of the best lock-down defenders in the league. And they’ll need help from the midfield from the likes of Jeff Larentowicz, Darlington Nagbe or Eric Remedi –– who is back in training after being forced out of last week’s match due to concussion protocol following his injury against New England –– if they are to secure another clean sheet this weekend.
Colorado Rapids (0-6-2)
Sitting at the bottom of the table, the Rapids are having another tough start to the season, finishing 2nd to last in the Western Conference last year. But despite having yet to earn a win in 2019, many of their results have ended in tight scorelines and their new personnel on the field are still getting settled in. So while their point total thus far doesn’t say much, this is a gritty team looking to hit their stride and kickstart their climb up the table.
Among their latest acquisitions – perhaps most notably from a historical MLS perspective – is forward Kei Kamara. Since the tall, talented, target forward joined the league in 2006 he’s bagged 117 goals and 44 assists. And he hasn’t lost his touch, scoring 14 goals last season in Vancouver and a team-leading five goals already this year for his new club. With him at the top of the Colorado attacking line is another new face in Chilean international Diego Rubio who joined from Sporting KC. The clever forward scored 0.92 goals for every 90 minutes played last season so he’s also just as effective in front of net as his strike partner. With Kamara’s presence and aerial ability combined with Rubio’s involvement in the build-up play, the Rapids have two dangerous front men who compliment each other well.
In addition, two fairly new faces run the Colorado midfield – the creative Benny Feilhaber who joined from LAFC over offseason and the versatile Kellyn Acosta who was signed from FC Dallas during the summer transfer window last season. They’re two USMNT-capped midfielders who bring a plethora of MLS experience, however they’ll be without their third piece of the puzzle this weekend with Englishman Jack Price sitting on a red card suspension. And while the Rapids have conceded the most goals this season, they still have U.S. Men’s National Team legend Tim Howard standing between the sticks, who’s looking to go out on a high in his last season as a pro.
Saturday is shaping up to be a tight matchup between two teams looking to spark their ascent up their respective conference standings. Make sure to tune in at 6:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports Southeast or FOX Sports GO, or listen to the match via 92.9 The Game, La Mejor Atlanta or via the Atlanta United App. For more info on how to follow all the action, click here.