Atlanta United Football Club thrashed expansion side Los Angeles Football Club 5-0 last Saturday in front of a nationally televised audience, which made it four wins on the bounce, a feat they were not able to accomplish last season. As Atlanta prepares for another marquee matchup, this time with NYCFC, the 5 Stripes are looking to keep the good times rolling at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Atlanta United’s distinct home-field advantage is outstanding. The 5 Stripes have taken points in 17 of 20 home matches (14-3-3) and the regular season home record at Mercedes-Benz is 8-1-2.
“It’s just our home turf,” Atlanta United midfielder Julian Gressel said when asked about his team’s performance at home. “I think it is good when you’re good at home and you get the points here. I think you’re expected to do that in order to pick up points. It’s a little bit of everything. The other team gets a little intimidated here and there because of the fans. I think they’re doing a tremendous job like always. Like I said, we’re really comfortable on that field out there, and we feel good.”
The debut of Miles Robinson was key in Saturday’s win. He was the 2nd overall pick in the 2018 MLS Superdraft and he defended extremely well.
“He did a great job defensively … the game allowed him to be successful in a sense that we were playing farther back and forced to defend,” said Atlanta United Head Coach Tata Martino. “He is an excellent defender. The part of his game that we are still developing is when we have possession and are playing out the back. I think that today the game favored his strengths and gave us the chance to hide his weaknesses.”
Lastly, forward Romario Williams scored his first goal in for the Atlanta United first team in stoppage time.
“I realized I found myself in a lot of space. Whenever I received the ball at halfway line the defender was as a couple yards away, so it was a perfect ideal one-versus-one situation, so I decided to go with him. I was able to create space for myself and get off a shot,” Williams said post-match. “It has a lot to do with confidence and trusting the guys around me. The guys give me the confidence to just be myself and play my game. Coming into a team that did extremely well last year and getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of each and every guy in the locker room. There are a lot of new faces this year – also myself included. It was just a testament of us coming together. This is only the fifth game and we are just getting better each and every week, as we continue to grow, hopefully, it just gets better.“
Also, heading into Sunday’s game, Josef Martinez has bagged 24 goals in his first 25 matches in Major League Soccer. That is a brand new record. If NYCFC has any chance of staying in the game, Patrick Vieira’s men must account for Atlanta’s talisman.
In 2017, NYCFC currently leads the MLS Eastern Conference with 13 points. Atlanta must remember to watch forward Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, he has bagged three goals for NYCFC this season and midfielder Maximiliano Moralez. Moralez has scored three goals as well this season.
Atlanta United will face off against NYCFC this Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with kickoff at 6pm. The match will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.