June 25, 2024

Former MLS champions Atlanta United will return to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium this Saturday to face Los Angeles Football Club in what promises to be another intriguing Major League Soccer clash. Both teams have a history of delivering exciting encounters whenever they meet on the field.

Atlanta United kicked off the season with a strong performance, securing three wins and a draw at home. However, they have since struggled to collect points both at home and on the road. Their last victory came at the end of March, and they are currently enduring an eight-game winless streak, marking their longest drought without a win in club history. Coach Gonzalo Pineda has been under pressure for over a month and is eager for a change in fortune. The team has faced challenges in finding balance, defensive solidity, and attacking prowess, making them formidable opponents for any defense to contend with.

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Currently sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference with only 13 points from 13 matches, Atlanta United is hoping to turn their season around starting with Saturday’s match. However, they face additional setbacks as key player Thiago Almada, a World Cup winner known for his vision and technical skill, is the latest addition to the injury list. Almada was seen training lightly on Thursday, and his availability for the match will be confirmed on Friday. Joining him on the sidelines due to injury are Tyler Wolff, Noah Cobb, and Georgios Giakoumakis, all of whom bring valuable contributions to the team.

Despite their position in the table, Atlanta United possesses individual talent, but they have yet to fully click as a team. As they prepare to face LAFC, they will be buoyed by the return of Jamal Thiare, Xande Silva, Daniel Williams, and Daniel Rios, providing a boost to their lineup.

“I believe we’re heading in the right direction,” stated Pineda. “The team’s mentality and character were evident in our recent victory, especially with seven home-grown players contributing. It’s encouraging to see players like Josh making critical saves in penalty shootouts and Stian stepping up when needed. We need to maintain this positivity and fighting spirit moving forward.”

Meanwhile, LAFC has enjoyed success in the Western Conference, accumulating 21 points from 13 games. The team bolstered its squad depth during the off-season with notable signings such as Olivier Giroud, Kei Ansu Kamara, and Eduard Atuesta.

Depending on the outcome of the match, LAFC could rise to second place in the table, while Atlanta United has an opportunity to break into the top ten for the first time this month. The head-to-head record between the two teams adds an extra layer of intrigue to the fixture.

Atlanta United holds a slight advantage in head-to-head encounters, with two wins compared to LAFC’s one victory, with one match ending in a draw. Notably, both of Atlanta’s victories against LAFC came at home, with scorelines of 5-0 in 2018 and 1-0 in 2021.

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These matches have often been closely contested, showcasing the competitive spirit and tactical battles between two ambitious clubs. Both managers may employ tactical adjustments to gain an edge, with Pineda potentially utilizing Edwin Mosquera’s pace to stretch LAFC’s defense, while Cherundolo may prioritize counter-attacking opportunities to exploit Atlanta United’s defensive vulnerabilities.

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