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The Daily Dirt, April 2: Defense

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Surprisingly, the backlines are the story ahead of Atlanta’s visit to Toronto

New York Red Bulls v Atlanta United FC Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

With one game left in MLS this week, three unbeaten teams remain. FC Dallas, Sporting Kansas City, and Toronto FC have all yet to lose in 2017. All of them have done this through stingy defense and earning multiple draws.

Toronto is up next for Atlanta United, next Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. While the defense has been strong so far, the attack has not reached the heights of last season’s MLS Cup run. Four goals in four games is not what most would expect out of a team featuring Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore. Hopefully the offense can misfire for at least one more week with Atlanta coming to town.

No one expected to be able to point to Atlanta’s defense as a strong suit, but back-to-back shutouts and 240 minutes without conceding a goal say otherwise. The headlines have been generated by the high-priced attackers, but Leandro Gonzalez Pirez might end up being the best acquisition by Atlanta United in terms of value. Michael Parkhurst is demonstrating why he was a prized catch by Carlos Bocanegra. Greg Garza and Tyrone Mears are proving to be excellent fits in Tata Martino’s system as they push high to get involved in the attack, but recover to protect Alec Kann in goal. Also, don’t discount the importance of the defensive midfielder in this lineup. Both Carlos Carmona and Jeff Larentowicz have performed very well in that role so far this season.

We’ll be digging deeper into the match-up as the week goes on, but let us know what you’re thinking as Atlanta gets ready to head to Toronto next weekend in the comments...


Domestic

Minnesota United gets their first MLS win, 4-2 over RSL (E Pluribus Loonum)

NYCFC come back to beat San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 at Yankee Stadium (Hudson River Blue)

Bastian Schweinsteiger scored in his Chicago Fire debut, but Montreal Impact earned a 2-2 draw at Toyota Park (Goal)

Columbus Crew shutout Orlando City 2-0, Justin Meram had a brace (Massive Report)

DC United defeated Philadelphia Union 2-1 at RFK Stadium (Black and Red United)

Cubo Torres with a hat trick against the New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo wins 4-1 (Dynamo Theory)

Vancouver Whitecaps defeat LA Galaxy 4-2 at BC Place (Eighty Six Forever)

The next U.S. men’s World Cup qualifier on June 8 will be at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (Denver Post)

When the New York Cosmos almost folded during the offseason, Giovanni Savarese did everything he could for his players (Front Row Soccer)

International

Absurd rumored bids for Neymar might be coming this summer from Manchester United and Chelsea (The Times)

Is Arsene Wenger’s future coming down to one game? (SB Nation)

Local