After earning a dominant 4-1 victory over FC Cincinnati on Thursday night, D.C. United will have a quick turnaround as they travel to Atlanta for a match at Mercedes-Benz on Sunday afternoon. The Black-and-Red are just one point behind the No. 1 Philadelphia Union and a win over Atlanta could help them make that jump in the standings. Here is everything you need to know about D.C. United’s latest opponent.
Atlanta United has been a little shakier than they were in their 2018 MLS Cup-winning season. But they still sit in the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference, two points behind D.C. United. Their last five matches are a mixed bag-- two wins, two losses, and one draw. Their most recent match on Wednesday night was a 5-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo, with Josef Martinez scoring two goals and Julian Gressel scoring a goal and two assists.
Players to Watch
Atlanta United has always been an attacking-minded team. Their top goal-scorer-- by far-- is Josef Martinez, who has 15 goals and two assists this season. He has the second-highest tally in MLS, behind only LAFC’s Carlos Vela. He is the most important player in Atlanta United’s offense to shutdown, but he isn’t the only attacking threat in Atlanta’s lineup. Julian Gressel has four goals and five assists this season (despite being a defender), Ezequiel Barco has four goals and one assist, and Justin Meram has three goals. And that list doesn’t even include Darlington Nagbe and Brandon Vazquez, who both scored in the match against Houston.
While Atlanta United is an attacking-minded team, their defense has also been impressive this season. Brad Guzan has nine shutouts so far this year-- that’s the highest number in MLS, although D.C. United’s Bill Hamid is No. 2 on that list with eight shutouts. Scoring against Guzan will be tough, but D.C. United didn’t have a problem doing it in their season opener.
D.C. United opened their season against Atlanta on March 3rd at Audi Field. The Black-and-Red earned a 2-0 victory, with goals from Paul Arriola and Luciano Acosta and a shutout against the reigning champions for Hamid and the defense. But D.C. United has not enjoyed good performances at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Last season, the Black-and-Red played there twice, losing 3-1 both times. This time around, D.C. United will be looking to change that narrative and take control of the Eastern Conference.