Saturday was another great night at Subaru Park. A convincing 4-1 win against Inter Miami brings Union to 34 points after 19 matches played, which is good enough to currently have them sitting in 4th place in the Eastern Conference standings. The 4-1 victory over Miami marks the 8th win in the past 11 games for Union, having lost just one match in that same stretch, and earning a total of 26 points across those 11 matches.
But how Union has a strong test ahead of them, with a three-game road trip consisting of over 5,000 miles of travel to face Atlanta United, LA Galaxy, and Nashville SC without Andre Blake and Damion Lowe in an 11-day span. First stop – Atlanta.
Union vs Atlanta United Preview
Union and Atlanta have met a total of 11 times in MLS play and ran into each other in the CONCACAF Champions League back in 2021. Across those 13 games, Union and Atlanta both have won four games, and they’ve drawn a total of five times.
Through those 13 games, Atlanta and Union have both scored 18 goals. Although the history between these two teams is split right down the middle, Union have not lost to Atlanta in their previous six meetings between MLS and CCL play, having three wins and three draws, and outscoring Atlanta by a total of 11 to four.
2023 MLS Season so far
Atlanta is having a strange season when you really dissect things. They’ve got one of the best players in the league in Thiago Almada, who many are anticipating to be sold in the summer transfer window for an MLS record fee, they are tied for the most goals in the league with 36, but at the same time have also conceded 35 times, the most goals allowed in the league.
Atlanta has a record of seven wins, eight draws, and five losses through 20 games which have them in 6th place with 29 points. Atlanta’s road record is not good, having just one win, five draws, and four losses away from home. But unfortunately for Union, Atlanta’s home form is where they earn their points, with a record of six wins, three draws, and one loss for a total of 21 points.
Although the departure of Thiago Almada will leave a gigantic hole in the midfield of Atlanta United, having contributed seven goals and a league-leading nine assists in 17 games, the arrival of forward Giorgos Giakoumakis at least leaves Atlanta with a goal scorer once Alameda is on his way out, with Giakoumakis netting 10 goals through 15 games in his first MLS season, which leads Atlanta United in the goal-scoring department.
Other offensive threats Union need to look out for are is 20 year old Tyler Wolff with four goals, and defenders Caleb Wiley and Andrew Gutman who both have three of their own. Also in defense, Brooks Lenon adds an attacking threat with seven assists so far this season, the most of any defender in the league. This team has a high-powered offense, and until Almada is gone, they’ll probably continue leading the league in goals scored.
But as I said before, Atlanta’s defense can’t stop the ball from entering their own net. They’ve let in a league-leading 35 goals, have the second-highest goals against per 90 minutes in the league, and have the lowest save percentage in the league. If there’s one way Union can get at this team, it’s by scoring more goals than Atlanta scores on them.
I mean, It’s got to be Thiago Almada, right? He’s not the only person on this team that can affect the game, but he’s one that can do it in a multitude of ways. Whether it’s finishing plays, assisting them, or banging in 40-yard free kicks, Alamada has the ability to change the game from anywhere, at any moment. It’s going to take a lot of work from Union’s midfield and backline to keep Alamada in check, especially without Andre Blake and Damion Lowe.
For Union, I’m looking for Jose Martinez to have a big game. I think his physicality and intensity are what Union needs in a game like this – on the road, in a building with a really good crowd, against a high-powered offense. I don’t know, seems like a great game for El Brujo to come in and cause some chaos. I’m not even calling for Jose to score another goal, but just one of those classic Brujo performances where he’s getting in the face of ball carriers, breaking up balls through the middle of the field and starting the transition the other way, and just being a pest for Atlanta’s attackers.
Union is still without Damion Lowe and Andre Blake. We’re still waiting to hear from Jim Curtin on any other injury updates in regards to Andres Perea, or maybe even Kai Wagner who left Saturday’s match at halftime and was seen icing his leg, but I would expect Union to roll out the same lineup they did last Saturday night.
Bendik in net, Wagner(so long that he’s healthy), Glesnes, Elliott, and Mbaizo in the backline. A midfield of Jose, Flash, Bedoya and Gazdag, and Carranza and Uhre up top. If Wagner is hurt, I think Matt Real will slot right into his place.
This will be a tough game for Union, but I think they have the chance to earn some points off a team that is susceptible to conceding goals. A draw would be good enough for me in this scenario, considering the opponent, missing some names, and the three-game road trip, but I think Union should push for a win here and make a statement. Let’s go get a 2-1 win on the road and keep things rolling. Don’t forget, the match is on Sunday at 4:00 pm EST set this week, available on MLS Season Pass via Apple TV.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union