The 2021 Atlanta United season kicks off in Costa Rica as the 5-Stripes take on LD Alajuelense in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. This knockout round is a two leg affair, so it will be important for Atlanta to come away with a good result to bring home next week. Fans can follow the match live on FS1 at 8pm ET. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot.
New Era Begins
The Gabriel Heinze era begins for Atlanta United on Tuesday night. The former world class defender is one of the rising young coaching talents in the game and his attention to detail and intensity has drawn rave reviews from all the players during preseason. Heinze and his coaching staff have been implementing their systems and ideas in training camp and the players will look to execute those ideas on the pitch Tuesday night. Everyone in and around the club is eager to get off to a positive start in 2021. Earning a good result at one of the top clubs in Costa Rica would be a great way to begin this new era at Atlanta United.
Lean on the squad’s International Experience
While Tuesday’s match marks the first competitive match of the year for Atlanta United, this year’s 5-Stripes squad boasts a lot of international experience that the team can count on. A total of 17 players have played in the Concacaf Champions League before. Eight have featured for various clubs in the Copa Libertadores (the Champions League equivalent of South America). Four players have taken part in the Europa League, while five Atlanta players have seen action in the Copa Sudamericana (the Europa League equivalent in South America). Forward Lisandro Lopez, who joined the club from Racing Club in Argentina this offseason, also brings with him bags of experience at the highest club competition level, the UEFA Champions League, where he has scored 19 times in 47 appearances.
Road victories, especially in the Concacaf Champions League knockout stages, are hard to come by. Since 2012, only four MLS teams have recorded road wins in the CCL Knockout phases. Atlanta United’s squad features several players who have played in those difficult environments before, and they will rely on that experience to pick up a good result at LD Alajuelense on Tuesday night.
Find an Away Goal
The Round of 16 in the Concacaf Champions League is played over two legs. After those 180 minutes of play, the aggregate score is tallied to see who advances to the Quarterfinals. The first tiebreaker in this competition is away goals scored. Atlanta United will be looking for that away goal on Tuesday night. In its previous four CCL matches, the 5-Stripes have managed to score two away goals. They scored one in 2019 at Herediano, and then scored another one last year at Motagua. On both of those occasions, Atlanta United would go on to advance. Finding an away goal would provide a big boost to the team’s chances of progressing to the CCL Quarterfinals for the third consecutive season.
Catch all the action on Tuesday night live on FS1 at Atlanta United travels to Costa Rica to take on LD Alajuelense with kickoff set for 8pm ET.