Last week, fans watched in awe as Miguel Almiron and Atlanta United dominated the Houston Dynamo on a stormy Saturday night in Atlanta. A hat trick from Miggy and a single score from Julian Gressel was more than enough to hold off the Dynamo, and the Five Stripes got their first three points since a win over Real Salt Lake on April 22nd. Despite the weather, it was a beautiful night for Atlanta United.
This week, Atlanta United is set to kick off against NYCFC for their second dual of this season. The match will take place at a sold out Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sunday evening and will be televised on ESPN/ESPN Deportes.
When the two squads faced off just a few weeks ago, Atlanta wasn’t able to overcome two quick second half goals from the boys in blue, and ultimately fell short 1-3. While the New York side is typically viewed as the team with Andrea Pirlo and David Villa, it was Rodney Wallace who seemingly dominated Atlanta in their last match as he scored one goal and assisted the other two.
So, what has changed since the last time the two sides met? Let’s take a look:
Prior to the first meeting between the two teams, Atlanta United was coming off a loss and still adjusting to the injury of Josef Martinez, who led the Five Stripes in scoring at the time. While we aren’t 100% sure how far Martinez is in his recovery, there is a (small) chance he will be featured on the 18 this weekend.
Tata ran his usual 4-2-3-1 lineup with Kenwyne Jones starting at striker. After realizing that this wasn’t successful, Martino moved Tito Villalba up top which has proven to make a huge difference in the effectiveness of Atlanta’s attack. In the likely instance that Martinez is still not back, Atlanta United fans should expect to see Villalba as the starting striker this time around.
Oh yeah, Tata…
Tata Martino was ejected from last week’s match after booting a ball onto the field after it came into the technical area. His ejection also earned him a one game suspension, so Jorge Theiler will be on the sidelines for Atlanta this weekend.
Yamil Asad missed the first match against the boys in blue due to a suspension he earned after elbowing Lloyd Sam of DC United a week before. After a great game against Houston where Asad assisted two of Almiron’s goals, you can bet that Yamil will be starting against NYCFC this Sunday.
Miguel Almiron is proving to be one of the leagues most pure scorers. He is tied with Josef Martinez in the scoring category for Atlanta with five goals. Atlanta fans get excited as soon as he touches the ball, and the energy is beginning to turn into goals. After a hat trick against Houston, Almiron will be ready for revenge against NYCFC this go around.
The last time Atlanta and NYCFC played, it was on a baseball field. The small field at Yankee Stadium gives NYCFC a home field advantage like no other. Sunday, the match will be played at Bobby Dodd Stadium, home of the most rambunctious fan base in the league. Oh yeah, and it’ll be on a normal sized pitch.
What hasn’t changed?
The leading scorer
David Villa still leads in scoring for the Pigeons, and his eight goals are the third most in the MLS. After a two goal outing against Orlando City, Villa is one goal shy of scoring his 50th in a NYCFC kit, so expect to see him going a little extra hard Sunday.
Sean Johnson is still playing well for the boys in blue, saving 33/46 shots and adding another clean sheet since the first match against Atlanta.
Hopefully, these factors will prove to change the outcome of the game in favor of Atlanta. Both squads are coming off a W, but as NYCFC is currently third in the eastern conference, a win for the five stripes would be incredibly helpful in the team’s trip back up the table. It’s time for round two.