CONCACAF Champions League / Match previews / Union

Match preview: Atlanta United vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: 215Pix

Who: Atlanta United (Major League Soccer) vs. Philadelphia Union (Major League Soccer)

What: 2021 Concacaf Champions League

Where: Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

When: Tuesday, April 27 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern

Watch: FS1, TUDN

Whistle: Not available at publication.

The Union and Atlanta United will face off in the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League, with leg 1 tonight in Atlanta. Surprisingly, these two sides have not faced one another since late October of 2019, a 2-0 Atlanta win in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals of MLS Cup. Since that match, both sides have had very different fortunes. Philadelphia raised its first trophy by winning the Supporters Shield, while Atlanta United missed the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time in their history, firing head coach Frank De Boer during the year. Despite representing the same league in this competition, Philadelphia and Atlanta are not too familiar with one another, setting up a tense and unpredictable quarter-final series between the two.

Scouting Report: Atlanta United

Atlanta had a similar start to the year as Philadelphia, with the Five Stripes facing the other Costa Rican representative in Champions League, L.D Alajuelense. To continue the trend, Atlanta United left the Costa Rica leading the first leg with a 1-0 scoreline, just like Philadelphia. Wrapping up the Round of 16, Atlanta again beat Alajuelense by a 1-0 score at home. To kick off their MLS regular season campaign, Atlanta faced rivals Orlando City, drawing 0-0, then earned a 3-1 win over the Chicago Fire.

As always with Atlanta, their high priced stars will always draw attention. Returning from an ACL injury last season is 2019 MLS leading scorer Josef Martinez, who Atlanta have been introducing off the bench lately early in the season. Another high-priced mainstay in the Atlanta lineup is young Argentine Ezekiel Barco. First arriving in 2019, Barco had some trouble adjusting to MLS at first, but seems to have adjusted well and can influence the game in many ways offensively. Outside of their big stars, Atlanta has also some young Americans with European experience. Brooks Lennon provides a Kai Wagner like wingback, although he is unlikely to feature for Atlanta after picking up an injury. Emerson Hyndman, was was recently at Rangers in Scotland, also helps to bring some energy to the Atlanta midfield. In the back is another young American with Miles Robinson anchoring the Atlanta backline. He is looking to make some impressions after a disappointing 2020.


Scouting report: Union

After a nice run of games to start the year, the Philadelphia Union were disappointed in their home-opener, letting a lead slip late at home to Inter Miami. It will be interesting to see how the Union respond on short rest, especially in the first leg away. Philadelphia will also be looking to rotate their lineup from the weekend, Sergio Santos is returning from injury and after playing 60 minutes Saturday he may be limited. Anthony Fontana will be looking to get back into the starting lineup, especially at his preferred spot in central midfield. It will be interesting to see how many options Jim Curtin will have on the bench, as Ilsinho picked up an injury Saturday and is unavailable. Curtin also mentioned after the MLS season opener at Columbus, some of his younger homegrown players may not be quite ready for Champions League play.

Another area the Union will be looking for improvement is within their back line. Centerbacks Jacob Glesnes and Jack Elliott have been sloppy at times with possession and passes out of the back, something that is critical to the Union’s style of play. Outside backs Kai Wagner and Olivier Mbazio will also need to help drive the offense, as getting into the attack as wide options helps open lanes for midfielders Alejandro Bedoya and Jamiro Montiero.


Injury Report:  Out – Ilsinho

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup Union mentality

Philadelphia lost their first match at home of the year, but also have only given up 2 goals in 4 competitive games so far. Will the Union perfer to sit back and counter and look for a vital away goal while trying to keep a clean sheet, or will the Union bring out their first choice lineup and try to beat Atlanta at their own game.

Player to Watch: Jamiro Monterio

Monteiro has been playing as Philadelphia’s number 10 for the first 4 games of the season. With the possible addition of Anthony Fontana, it will be interesting to see if Monteiro again leads the Union midfield or if he lines up on the left side of their midfield diamond.

Prediction:  Atlanta 1 – 0 Philadelphia

Atlanta is a hard place to come and play, reduced capacity or not. Atlanta also has had a strong defense through their first 4 games, only allowing 1 goal. It will be a tight game, but Atlanta finds a winner in the second half.




  1. Andy Muenz says: is listing Jair Marrufo as the ref. It looks like the entire crew might be MLS.

  2. Only one lineup change tonight… Burke for Santos.

  3. Gruncle Bob says:


  4. This was without a doubt the most fun I have ever had watching the Union play, and boy was I wrong when I said a CONCACAF matchup of two MLS teams was boring. Absolutely miraculous that the Union managed to score a goal, let alone win this game! Their XG is lower than a team they beat 3-0! Miraculous is the only word. Anyone else notice that Aaronson’s ghost was subbed off according to the FS1 display? I was crying with laughter when Kacsper went down ‘injured’ in the 82nd minute after deflecting a cross with his back. FLACH is the real deal. So proud of the boys for sticking with it, and combing for some gorgeous counter attacks. You already knew when Fontana came on that he was gonna score, he has dethroned illsinho as the supersub. And I have a feeeling that third goal (and Kacsper’s unselfishness) might come in to play huge in leg 2, because Martinez will be sorely missed. Another miracuouls aspect of the game – I can’t BELIEVE he lasted 85 minutes without a second yellow. Ref managed the game very well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *