In what most people would call “The MLS Match of the Season,” Atlanta United face off against their Eastern Conference rivals, New York Red Bulls, this Sunday for a Supporters’ Shield Showdown.
After grabbing all 9 points in their away games, Atlanta United hopes to continue their road dominance and solidify their place atop the Eastern Conference table with a win over 2nd place, New York Red Bulls.
At the perfect time, Atlanta United is getting in their groove. As the regular season winds down, players other than the usual ones (Almiron, Martinez) are stepping up in a huge way for the 5 Stripes. Winning MLS Goal of the Week for his freakish strike last week is Tito Villalba, who helped Atlanta scrape by in San Jose. Julian Gressel also got on the board with a goal and has been racking up assists steadily throughout the season.
This match will no doubt be one of the the last ones that Villalba, Almiron and Martinez play before going on international duty for their countries. (Interesting fact – Tito Villalba, born in Argentina, has made the switch over to become a Paraguayan citizen, where Miguel Almiron is from, and they will both be present in their friendlies).
No BWP, No Problem
A major advantage for Atlanta United is that the Red Bulls won’t be relying on their usual marksman to give them the attacking prowess they’re characterized by. Due to an accumulation of yellow cards, the face of the Red Bulls’ won’t be stepping on the pitch this Sunday.
The Red Bulls have plenty to play for, since a win at the Benz would cut Atlanta’s lead to only 1 point away, and get them that much closer to the highly coveted Supporters’ Shield.
Atlanta United also have a lot to play for the rest of the season. Even though their playoff spot is already clinched, winning on the road this Sunday can also guarantee their spot in the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League, which will only prove to everyone the work that the players and Tata Martino have put in since last year.