Match previews / Union

Match preview: Atlanta United vs. Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey 

Who: Atlanta United vs. Philadelphia Union

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

When: Saturday, September 18th, 3:30 p.m.

Watch: UniMas, TUDN, Twitter

Whistle: Not available at publication

It hasn’t been long since these two sides met in MLS play, when Philadelphia defeated Atlanta 4-1 at Subaru Park just 2 weeks ago. Since that matchup, both teams have been scoring goals:

Atlanta have seven goals in three matches, while the Union have also put seven past opponents in only two matches.

Both teams are also still pushing for their highest spot in the standings. Atlanta is still looking to get into the playoffs and they are currently 5 points out of the final spot with three matches to go. Philadelphia on the other hand is looking to take a firm hold of the Supporters Shield race, having taken the lead this week after LAFC drew Minnesota on Tuesday night.

Scouting Report: Atlanta United

Since winning MLS Cup in 2018, Atlanta United have seen their fortunes turn rather quickly.

They’ve been unable to replace star Miguel Almiron with several failed big money signings, and Jose Martinez hasn’t looked the same since his ACL injury. Brad Guzan is sidelined for the year with a torn achilles, and to top it all off Martinez is having a rather public fight with the front office and coaching staff.

Despite all of this, Atlanta still finds themselves within reach of a playoff spot, even with albeit slim chances. Their defense has hunkered down a bit after giving up four to Philly, surrending two to both Portland and a high powered Toronto attack. Alan Franco and Chester-born George Campbell have held down the center for Atlanta in defense, while Brooks Lennon occupies one of the flanks. The versatile Andrew Gutman is on the other flank. In goal is Rocco Rios Novo, who’s kept two clean sheets in 15 starts.

In midfield are some bigger names, with Thiago Almada and Marcelino Moreno looking to spring the attack with their creativity. More defensive will be Santiago Sosa or Matheus Rossetto.

Despite his public feud, Martinez remains Atlantas top scorer with eight goals this year, even though he often comes off the bench now. Ronaldo Cisneros is close behind with seven and those two will most likely be the starting strike pair. Also off the bench is Philly favorite Dom Dwyer, who has four goals this year.

Injury Report: Out: Ozzie Alonso, Dylan Castanheira, Brad Guzan, Miles Robinson, Emerson Hyndman. Questionable: Matheus Rossetto

Suspension Report:  None

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia have been on a terrific run of form since their 6-0 win against DC almost four weeks ago, winning four straight games and putting up 17 goals in that span. Strikers Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza have meshed well with attacking midfielder Daniel Gazdag, and in each match the trio seemingly combine and score at will.

In the midfield, Philadelphia boasts some experience behind Gazdag, as Alejandro Beodya and Jose Martinez continue to have stellar seasons. Beodya has returned to training this week after suffering a groin injury versus Orlando last time out. Next to Beodya will be youngster Leon Flach, who is known for his defensive ability but has also shown some offensive flashes of late.

In defense the Union will very likely be unchanged as their center-back pairing of Jack Elliott and Jakob Glesnes have drawn media attention as the best pairing in the league this season, and Left back Kai Wagner should be up for a bevy of end-of-season awards, continuing to pile up assists. Olivier Mbaizo will be looking to build upon a strong performance on the right side.

Meanwhile, Andre Blake is in goal and is yet again the front-runner for Goalkeeper of the Year. He’ll be looking to add another clean sheet and overtake Sean Johnson for the league lead in that category.

Injury Report: None

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup: Mentality

Both of these sides are looking for a win to create some separation in the standings. Can Philadelphia keep pushing now that they have claimed the top spot in the league, or will a desperate Atlanta side prove to be too much?

Player to Watch: Josef Martinez 

Martinez is the man who has brought Atlanta to many highs in the past. If they’re going to make a playoff push, he’s the man to do it. A frustrating season may turn into a productive end for Martinez.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 2-1 Atlanta 

Philly keeps their win streak going and Martinez notches a goal late to try and mount a comeback, but the Union’s defense is too strong.

Odds
Philadelphia = +155
Atlanta = +145
Draw = +260

12 Comments

  1. I just don’t feel good about this one. Both previous times that the Union have won 5 in a row this season, they lost on the road in the 6th game (@Toronto and @Cincinnati). With LAFC hosting Houston this weekend, I’m thinking the Union will likely be in second in the shield race over the international break.
    .
    That said, Charlotte lost one of their defenders to suspension for the next 2 games so hopefully the Union can win their last 2 regardless of what happens tomorrow and with Portland fighting for a playoff spot, maybe they can take care of business against LAFC on October 2.

  2. Will be a tough one, no doubt. I think the key is counterattacking when Gutman thinks he’s a forward and plays way out of position. He assisted on a goal their last game, and scored against us. But they are vulnerable when he pulls way up the field.

  3. Philly needs to score first. If we do we will be in good shape. We don’t, and Atlanta scores early, I would agree with you that we don’t win.

  4. Agreeing with comments above, that this feels like a tough match… turf, revenge mission from a squad fighting for a playoff spot, road crowd, etc.
    .
    Having said this, I have to believe that Jim, Ale and other leaders are keeping Union focused. They cannot let their foot off of the gas for one second. The mystery of momentum and the game “between the ears” — it matters.

  5. Other than Twitter, is there an English language broadcast?

  6. REF: Guido Gonzales Jr
    AR1: Nick Uranga
    AR2: Kevin Klinger
    4TH: Pierre-Luc Lauziere
    VAR: Jorge Gonzalez
    AVAR: Craig Lowry

  7. Why does the lead say this….

    Philadelphia faces Colorado for the first time in over three years on Saturday evening.

  8. Does anyone know why this particular match isn’t on channel 17? I thought they are “the home of the Union”?

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