Atlanta United fans were ecstatic in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium last weekend. They saw their beloved homegrown player, Andrew Carleton, start for the first time in his MLS career. They saw all time leading goal scorer Josef Martinez net his sixth hat-trick, a MLS record, in just 42 games. And Wayne Rooney, although Leandro Gonzalez Pirez had him in his pocket the majority of the game.
With 22 matches played, United have a record of 13-4-5, a record that sees them in first place for the Supporters Shield. If Atlanta wants to remain on top after this weekend, this is a must-win game due to the fact that both New York Red Bulls and NYC FC are three and four points behind Atlanta respectively. If the Five Stripes drop any points this weekend we could see the top of Eastern Conference tighten up even more.
Montreal Impact have 28 points and sit in 5th place in the East with 9 wins, 12 losses, and 1 draw and both Montreal and Atlanta have shown a similar run of form in their last five games with 3 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw.
Last weekend, we saw Carleton start in place of Ezequiel Barco who was omitted from the matchday squad for violating a team rule. Tata Martino stated that Barco wouldn’t be playing against Montreal and Carleton is likely to step into that role again after helping to create both two of Atlanta’s goals. Although, the left midfield position may be easier to predict, the central midfield position could be anyone.
Jeff Larentowicz, Darlington Nagbe, Eric Remedi, and Julian Gressel are all contenders for the starting spots in the centre of the park. Jeff is currently undroppable and Nagbe is on the sideline with an injury, so the other holding midfielder could be utility man Gressel or new signing Remedi. When Nagbe comes back into the mix, it’s going to be a free for all for minutes.
Then there’s the left back position. Greg Garza underwent surgery in May after reaggravating a shoulder injury on May 20th with the club stating he would be out 4-6 months. Mikey Ambrose and Chris McCann have been splitting the minutes and both have filled in that role splendidly.
Ignacio Piatti will be Montreal’s biggest threat in front of goal as the midfielder has accumulated 10 goals and 9 assists this season. The defence will need to be at the top of their game to shut him down.
My totally not biased prediction is 3-0.
[Kick off is scheduled for 7 PM EST and Midnight UK time]
Up The Five Stripes.
Written by Kyle Soto – (@KDSJ_99)