Where: Talen Energy Stadium: Chester, PA
When: Saturday, July 7th 7:00pm
Watch: Fox Sports South, ESPN+
After giving away three points in Dallas on Wednesday, Atlanta United (1st in East, 37 points, 11-4-4) are looking to bounce back to their winning ways Saturday evening against the Philadelphia Union (8th in East, 21 points, 6-3-8).
The two sides have met three times during Atlanta’s short existence, and the Union have yet to come out on top. They did manage to draw, however, in a match against ATL during their inaugural season. This will be the second meeting of 2018 between the two, and the Union will be looking to prove something after two early red cards helped Atlanta to a 3-1 win earlier this season.
Atlanta is coming off a VERY disappointing loss to FC Dallas on Independence Day. In a game that saw Atlanta score in the 73rd minute to take the lead, two late goals lifted the Toros above United, ultimately handing them their fourth loss of the season. More importantly, however, it helped close the gap between the two sides in the race for the Supporters Shield, as Atlanta now only has a two-point advantage with two games in hand.
That being said, the loss shouldn’t give Atlanta fans any worry. Sure, the defense was questionable during the closing minutes of the match, but this team has proven that they are one of the best, if not the best team in the MLS on more than one occasion. If anything, the loss will fuel the team to prove that they are still the best road team in Major League Soccer when they play the Union on Saturday.
With Greg Garza and Darlington Nagbe still out, expect a similar, if not exact same lineup as the one we saw against FC Dallas.
Like the away team, the Union will have something to prove as well. Let’s face it, before Bedoya and Medunjanin threw a fit and were sent off in the 19th minute of the first meeting, we had a pretty good game on our hands. Does that mean Atlanta wouldn’t have gotten the result? Absolutely not. But it does mean that the Union are not to be taken lightly – unless they get themselves thrown out again. They’ll be looking for revenge, and they’ll be able to field the players that give them the best chance.
The question for Philly is whether or not they will be able to figure out their attack. The Union’s gameplan will likely be to keep Atlanta on their heels, as that is widely considered the only way to beat them. That being said, they won’t be capable of doing so unless they can find someone to step up and be their goal-scorer, their Josef Martinez. C.J. Sapong will likely start up top, despite many fans wanting to see a new face at that position as Sapong’s ineffectiveness has hurt the team and helped them stay on the back half of the table.
Prediction: Atlanta 3-1 Philadelphia
Philadelphia is a good team, but it would be shocking to see Atlanta lose twice in a row. Each team will field a good line up and fans should be in for a great game, but the Union’s attacking woes will prevent them from earning a result.