Atlanta United heads on the road on Wednesday night to face rival Orlando City. Three points are critical in the race for the final 2020 MLS Cup Playoff spot. The 5-Stripes enter the match in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, where 10 teams make the playoffs this season. The match kicks off at 7:30pm ET on FS1. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot.
Conquer the Lion’s Den
This Rivalry has seen largely positive results for Atlanta United in its four-year history. The 5-Stripes are 7-1-4 in matches against Orlando City SC all-time across all competitions. When it comes to road matches, Atlanta has never lost to the Lions in Orlando. Adam Jahn scored a late equalizer to keep that streak alive the last time ATL UTD traveled to Orlando. Atlanta has outscored Orlando 9-3 at Exploria Stadium over the years. The 5-Stripes need to put together a complete 90 minute performance to bring home all three points on Wednesday night.
Stop Orlando’s Attacking Trio
Orlando City SC has already qualified for the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, the first time the club has achieved that in its history. They feature one of the best attacks in the Eastern Conference. Orlando’s 31 goals scored are tied for 2nd best in the East. Chris Mueller leads the team with 8 goals and 6 assists. He is one of only nine players in MLS with at least 6 goals and 6 assists in 2020. Portuguese star Nani and rookie forward Daryl Dike have scored five goals each, giving Orlando a dangerous attacking trio.
Orlando are the draw kings of the East with eight on the season. Only the Houston Dynamo (9) in the Western Conference have more draws in 2020. The Lions have drawn three of their last four matches and are coming off a 2-1 loss against Inter Miami CF on the weekend. Atlanta United needs to take advantage of that dip in form and collect three points on Wednesday night.
Turn Possession into Goals
Throughout the 2020 season, Atlanta United has consistently ranked in the top-5 of MLS in terms of keeping possession of the ball. This week they enter in 4th place with 55.31% possession in matches. Only LAFC, San Jose and NYCFC have more possession in matches than the 5-Stripes. Atlanta needs to convert that possession into chances created and ultimately goals.
One way is to continue to utilize the flanks and send crosses into the box. Atlanta has put 56 successful crosses into the box, which ranks 7th in MLS. Brooks Lennon has delivered the most successful open crosses in the league (27), including another beauty this weekend on his assist to Jon Gallagher vs. D.C. United. Jürgen Damm, Jake Mulraney are among other players who have shown the ability to deliver a decisive cross into the box. Look for those crosses to make a difference on Wednesday night.
Tune in to the match on Wednesday on FS1 when Atlanta United travels to Orlando City with kickoff set for 7:30pm ET.