After back to back wins against the Houston Dynamo and D.C. United at home, the upcoming schedule for Atlanta United will be very busy and difficult. First test for the 5-Stripes tonight will be from the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles as they take on league leaders LAFC in what will be a big test for United to see if the team has what it takes to get huge points on the road against the best team in the league so far this MLS season.
LAFC players like league leading goalscorer and Mexican International Carlos Vela, who has scored 21 goals in just 20 games is truly outstanding and remarkable so the United defense will have to be on their toes at all times with a player of his capability on the pitch. Other players like forwards Adama Diomande and Diego Rossi are also players to watch when on the front foot and attack, there is a reason why this team has scored already 55 goals this season, their attack is deadly. In the midfield Eduard Atuesta and Mark-Anthony Kaye will be players to watch as they will supplement the forwards with quick passes and downfield crosses, making the United’s defensive and midfielders roles a key task to contain LAFC’s build up when pressing forward or on counter attacks.
In terms of defense, U.S. International Walker Zimmerman will likely get the start tonight and his job of stopping the Martinez Bros. will be put to the test. Atlanta United has their star players and all-stars as well, we just have not seen the best of what they could do so far this season, injuries and other factors with a new coaching staff and playing style have been the primary reasons.
In injury news for United, the boat show Ezequiel Barco returned with the squad to training this week and traveled with the team to LA so that is obviously great news. It’s unsure if he will start tonight, but for sure he’ll be on the bench in case if a super sub is needed at some point in the match during the second half. Florentin Pogba also traveled with the team after recovering from his thigh injury he suffered earlier this month against the Red Bulls. Tito Villalba is still out with his knee injury but it is very likely he will return to training with the side this upcoming week. The team will obviously not rush with any of the returning players from injury so don’t expect a quick return, but in terms of a timeable return to the pitch, expect it to be 1-2 weeks when we see Barco and Tito back on the field together with Barco returning first and Tito not far after. LAFC vs. Atlanta United will be live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10 P.M. ET. VAMOS UNITED!
This will be Atlanta United’s first big test of a long and time consuming schedule of difficult matches against some of MLS’s better and experienced sides. After the LAFC match tonight, United will head back to Atlanta and get ready for next Saturday’s match against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy. After that just 3 days later on August 6th United head down south to Disneyland and take on Orlando City SC in the U.S. Open Cup Semifinal Match in which the winner moves on to the final and takes on the winner of the other Semifinal match between Portland and Minnesota. Then Atlanta return home to take on Eastern Conference Rivals NYCFC at the Benz. Finally to conclude the rough schedule, a three game road trip starting up in Portland against the Timbers in a rematch of the 2018 MLS Cup on August 18th, then back to Florida to take on Orlando again on August 23rd and finally ending the road trip up in Philadelphia against the Union, the league leaders in the Eastern Conference with 39 points on August 31st.
This schedule will determine if Atlanta United can compete with the best of the best in a very limited amount of time between games. If they can do that and win U.S. Open Cup within that time frame then anything is possible with this team, the expectations and standards are still the same and still very demanding, Win Trophies. Easier said then done but this team has the players and talent to do it, it’s all up to them whether they want it more than the other teams do.
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