Atlanta United wraps up a three-match road trip at Inter Miami CF on Sunday afternoon. The nationally televised match will be the fifth all-time meeting between the two sides. Atlanta is looking for its first victory against Miami after two draws and two defeats in last year’s season series. Let’s take a look at the Tools to the Match presented by The Home Depot.
Convert the chances you create
Atlanta United enters Sunday’s match with a 1-1-1 mark in league play. Gabriel Heinze is continuing to implement his system and style of play as we are still in the early stages of the campaign. One positive sign for the 5-Stripes is that the team is creating chances consistently through the opening three MLS matches. Atlanta is averaging 9.7 chances created per match, which ranks them 12th in the league. For comparison, the 5-Stripes created 6.6 chances per match in 2020.
Converting those chances will be the big focus as the 5-Stripes head down to Florida this weekend. Emerson Hyndman talked about getting back on the training pitch to work on that final ball, that final play following the CCL match in midweek.
“Tonight, it seemed like we would get up there and didn’t have the final ball which was unfortunate,” Hyndman said. “We know it’s something we have to work on. We are just going to have to work on the training pitch and get better.”
Shut down Miami’s big name stars
Inter Miami entered 2021 with a new coach in Phil Neville and looking to improve on its 2020 form. With big names like Gonzalo Higuain and Blaise Matuidi in the squad for a full training camp, Miami’s expectations have risen for this season. Higuain has scored twice in the early going, while his brother Federico Higuain has chipped in a goal. Coming off a season-opening home loss to LA Galaxy, Miami responded with a 2-1 win at Philadelphia and a 0-0 on the road at Nashville to give them the same record (1-1-1) as Atlanta United.
The Higuain brothers are expected to return to the Miami squad this week. The team also features Mexican National Team player Rodolfo Pizarro as a creative player in midfield. Shutting down the Matuidi-Pizarro-Higuain connection through the middle of the pitch would go a long way to bringing a positive result back to the ATL.
Santiago Sosa’s passing among best in the league
One of the revelations of the early season has been Santiago Sosa in midfield for Atlanta United. The 22-year old Argentine joined the club from River Plate this offseason and has been an instant starter under Gabriel Heinze. Sosa’s passing accuracy sits at 89.7 percent in MLS play, which ranks him sixth in the league. He’s coming off his first professional goal, which was a beautiful turn and finish to the far post against Philadelphia in Champions League action. As a team, Atlanta United’s passing accuracy ranks third in MLS at 85.7 percent.
The 5-Stripes will look to turn that passing accuracy and the chances created into goals this weekend. Catch all the action on Sunday afternoon on ABC and Sports Radio 92.9 The Game as Atlanta United visits Inter Miami CF with kickoff set for 1pm ET.