Atlanta United is hoping to take all three points from Orlando City SC after a disappointing draw with Portland last week.
Atlanta enters the match two points ahead of Sporting Kansas City in the Supporters Shield Race and three points ahead of New York City FC in the Eastern Conference – Although, Atlanta has played one more game than NYCFC.
Orlando enters the weekend with a seven game losing streak in MLS play. Both teams have run into recent struggles and desperately need wins for different reasons.
Orlando’s camp has faced a variety of issues, one of the biggest being their managerial situation. Orlando recently parted ways with Jason Kreis, a manager who has seemingly decline throughout his managerial career. He started the 2018 season convincingly, but his former side have dropped to 8th place with a record of 6-1-9.
However, Orlando announced on July 29th they found their replacement in James O’Connor, who is currently at United Soccer League (USL) club Louisville City FC. O’Connor will take the reins at Orlando after Louisville City’s match over the weekend while interim manager Bobby Murphy will remain in charge through this weekend’s match.
Atlanta will want to take advantage of this weekend’s fixture to build confidence, momentum, and stay on top of the table.
The Five Stripes have issues of their own with one of the biggest being Darlington Nagbe who picked up a groin injury during last weekend’s match against Portland. This leaves questions about who will step into that defensive midfield role for this weekend’s match and for the next few games.
The two main candidates to replace Nagbe are Kevin Kratz and utility man Julian Gressel. Gressel has been deployed on the right hand side in place of Hector Villalba who has been recovering from an injury. After a few substitute appearances, one in which Villalba scored the second goal in a 2-0 win over Columbus Crew, will Villalba finally return to the starting lineup?
With Nagbe out of the lineup, manager Gerardo Martino will need to make a decision on which two of the three players in question will make the start on Saturday. However, Atlanta United recently acquired Eric Remedi, a 23-year-old defensive midfielder from Argentine club, Banfield. The midfielder will be eligible for team selection starting on July 10th, which will help ease the strain on Atlanta United’s thinning squad.
Prediction: I predict a 2-0 win for Atlanta with the goal scorers being Almiron and Martinez.
Kick off is scheduled for 7 PM EST and midnight in the United Kingdom.
Written by Kyle Soto – (@kdsj_99)