The Lions travel up the road to take on the MLS newcomers from the Peach State in round two of the season’s three-game series. Although Orlando City played much better last Friday than it did prior to the Gold Cup break, the offense still isn’t where it needs to be. The club addressed that by signing Dom Dwyer this week. It’s tough to say whether he’ll start but Dom will be available for selection and likely at least in the 18 this afternoon when the teams kick off.
Here to help us learn more about the newbies from Georgia for the second consecutive week is Haris Kruskic of Dirty South Soccer. I also answered his questions and you can find those over at their place.
hWere you surprised at Atlanta's potent attack not generating more clear-cut chances against Orlando's defense and why were the Lions able to limit United's opportunities? How much did Josef Martinez's lack of availability affect things?
Haris Kruskic: Frankly, no. All season, Atlanta's attack has been more about the quality of the shots they take rather than the quantity. The players are patient, but perhaps too patient at times. This moment in the first half of the last match comes to mind, when the ball fell to Almiron's feet in the box and he hesitated to take it first time. That cost him at least a good shot on goal. That's something Atlanta supporters have seen a little more often than they'd care to admit.
Atlanta aren't nearly as multi-dimensional on the attack without Martinez. His skill, dribbling, and optimism around the goal were sorely missed, and will be missed again this Saturday as Tata Martino announced he won't be available again. It's easier for any club in MLS to slow down Atlanta's attack without their biggest attacking threat.
How do you think that game would have played out differently without Brad Guzan (if at all)?
HK: Alec Kann would not have held onto some of the shots Guzan held onto and would not have made some of the wonderful saves Guzan made. It could've been two, maybe three goals conceded had Guzan not been in goal.
What might Atlanta United do differently in the rematch now that the teams have gotten a look at each other on the field?
HK: Personally I don't think they'll do anything differently, especially since Martinez still isn't available. Atlanta have had this funny way of playing much better at home than on the road this season. Obviously I doubt Martino will want to rely on that reasoning to carry them to three more points on Saturday, but he does tend to have the same tactical philosophies regardless of who the personnel are on the pitch. Perhaps he reminds the players to have a go at goal when they get the chance.
Any injuries we should know about? What is your projected starting XI and final score prediction?
HK: Injuries: Josef Martinez, Jacob Peterson, Kenwyne Jones, Alec Kann
Starting XI: Brad Guzan, Greg Garza, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst, Anton Walkes; Carlos Carmona, Jeff Larentowicz; Yamil Asad, Miguel Almiron, Julian Gressel; Hector Villalba.
Score prediction: 3-2 Atlanta.
Big thanks to Haris from Dirty South Soccer for returning to give us more perspective on Atlanta United.