Atlanta United (17-12-3) don’t have to wait long for a chance to bounce back from Wednesday night’s loss, with a trip to Montreal to face the Impact (11-17-4) coming up this weekend. With just two regular-season matches remaining this season, the Five Stripes are focused on finishing the season strong, while the Impact need nothing less than a win to keep their postseason aspirations alive.
Ahead of the final regular-season road match of the season, we broke down the Tools to the Match, presented by The Home Depot:
Lock up the Back
Atlanta United’s back line were the first ones to point out they needed to perform better after Wednesday night’s loss in New York. For a team that is leading the league in clean sheets, they know there is another level they can reach, and they’ll look to do just that in Montreal. The Impact haven’t scored in their last 233 minutes of play at home since August 28th. If the Five Stripes play at their best they can continue that streak –– and securing a clean sheet goes a long way to securing a victory away from home.
Find the Goalscorer
It’s no secret that the reigning MVP Josef Martinez is an important part of the Atlanta United attack. With the Venezuelan striker out for a second match after his injury last weekend against the San Jose Earthquakes, someone is going to have to step up with a match-changing moment. On Wednesday, Pity Martínez found the back of the net for the club’s record 20th straight match with a goal. Only five teams have had a longer run since 2010. If the Five Stripes can keep their streak alive, it will ease the pressure on the back line in what is always a tough road atmosphere.
The Killer Mindset
After Wednesday night’s loss in New York, Captain Brad Guzan called for a change in mindset from his teammates. Frank de Boer called for more aggression, a desire to win the one-on-one battles. Whatever you call it, Atlanta United needs to find their ruthless streak that has made them nearly unbeatable during stretches of the season. It’s the time of the year where nothing else matters but results, and sometimes a hunger and desire can be the difference-maker when the margins get tight in the final matches of the season.
With just two regular-season matches remaining, every 90 minutes is crucial for the Five Stripes as they push toward the postseason to defend their MLS Cup championship. If you can’t make the trip to Montreal, click here for all the ways to tune in from home.