While Atlanta United FC is an expansion team, they have proven in the early weeks of the season that they are no pushovers.
They currently sit third in the Eastern conference, and are fresh off a draw at BMO Field against Toronto FC last week, despite playing the final portion of the game with 10 men after Yamil Asad was sent off.
Under Tata Martino, Atlanta plays a very direct style of play. They have scored a lot of goals; six against Minnesota and another four against Chicago, and many have come off cutting through balls or long balls over the top of the defense.
Miguel Almiron has been a big part of the team’s success so far, with three assists already. Another Designated Player, Hector Villalba, has been starting up top in place of Josef Martinez who is out with injury.
He scored twice in the draw against TFC, netting both of Atlanta’s goals.
MLS veterans Michael Parkhurst and Jeff Larentowicz have been solid defensively for United, as well goalkeeper Alec Kann, who made seven saves last week.
Opening it up
Atlanta’s games so far have all been very open games; they want to give their players opportunities in isolation, because many of them have to skill to beat defenders 1 v 1.
Almiron will likely be starting on the left wing of a 4-2-3-1, so it will be important for Chris Duvall to be aware of the playmaker at all times.
He likes to drop into the middle in order to see passing lanes; either Duvall or a member of the midfield will have to track him to ensure that he can’t find Villalba’s runs in behind Ciman.
The Impact really need to find a win at home on Saturday, and to do so, they will need to be more creative offensively than they have shown so far.
Whether Piatti plays or not, the Impact need to be better with the ball, while staying aware of the possibility of a quick counter.
If they can do that, they will have a chance to compete against a strong Atlanta team.