MLS Match Preview: Columbus Crew vs Atlanta United

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Atlanta United are back in action after a much needed time off this past week due to the International Break. The players who were not off to play for their country were at the training ground getting prepared for tomorrow’s away match against the Columbus Crew. United have not gotten off to the best start early in the MLS season with 1 loss and 2 home draws, for a total of 2 points. However, the season is young and there is still plenty of time left for fans to see improvement from this Frank De Boer coached squad. We all know this team has yet to put out it’s best performance, but with new transitions in the head coaching position and staff as well as obstacles that faced this team in the offseason with how to replace Miguel Almiron, nothing will come quick and easy. A great way to test out these challenges, will be through how they handle adverse playing conditions like difficult stadium environments. Although the Crew have had pretty low attendance to start off the year that does not mean their team is unappealing to watch in action. Players like Gyazi Zardes, Federico Higuain, and Will Trapp are very experienced and talented players who have helped this team become playoff contenders each MLS season with far runs in the playoffs. While they have had no Cup success since 2008 and their last appearance in said MLS Cup was in 2015 in which they lost to the Portland Timbers. Atlanta United have dominated the Crew so far in league play with 4 wins in the 5 meetings between the two teams, the only loss came in the 2017 MLS playoffs when the Crew defeated the 5-Stripes on PK’s giving United an early exit in their playoff debut. While that loss hurt United and the fans, the following year was more than recompense in taking the first championship that any team in Atlanta has seen in 2018. United will have their hands full trying to get their first victory on the road at Columbus. They are a difficult team and it will be a long battle to get the 3 points, but this squad is resilient and will give their maximum efforts to ensure they bring a win back to Atlanta.

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Unfortunately in bad news, the injury bug has hit some United players and they will not be available for Saturday’s match in Columbus. The players include Pity Martinez who suffered an injury playing for Argentina in a friendly vs. Venezuela last week. By all accounts, his hamstring injury will not keep him sidelined for long and he will likely be available for United’s next match against the New England Revolution on April 13th. Other players out for Saturday’s match include Florentin Pogba, Kevin Kratz and George Bello is still questionable. In better news, United expect the return of defender Franco Escobar who has not played since the MLS Cup Final. Escobar’s injury was suffered during training back in January, which sidelined him for just about 2 months and kept him out of CCL action. Escobar was also a very important player in United’s MLS Cup run last season which included a goal in the 2018 MLS Cup Final victory vs. Portland. He is a key player and the effects without him on the defensive side of the ball over the course of the past month have shown tremendously. With Pity Martinez out, this could open more playing time for attacking players like Tito Villalba and even Andrew Carleton may get in the mix for United’s Starting XI to go along with United’s Midfield combination of Darlington Nagbe and Eric Remedi. Carleton and United defender Miles Robinson have been in top form lately, seeing playing time for the U.S. youth national teams which bodes well for the two young players. Robinson has shown consistent success in recent performances with the 5-Stripes, which may lead to getting a call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Team.

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Atlanta United’s match vs the Columbus Crew will be played on Saturday, March 30th. The match will be aired live on Fox Sports South at 7:30 P.M. ET. The game will also be available to live stream and watch on ESPN+. VAMOS UNITED!

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