Here we are again for another Atlanta United matchday. Today’s opponent is the 2015 MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers. Providence Park will be rocking with 20,000 screaming Cascadian lunatics like it always is. One of the most intimidating stadiums in MLS to visit as a road side, this is just one of many difficult variables stacked up against the Five Stripes for this match-up.
At full-strength, the Timbers boast one of, if not the most potent attacks in the league. Their ever-reliable goal scorer Fanendo Adi leads the line as the dangerous target man who can both facilitate plays and finish them. He’s joined in attack by new acquisition Sebastian Blanco, a shifty playmaker who can play central or drift wide. He’s a match-up nightmare for every opposing backline. That’s just half of the attacking quartet that can wreak havoc on a weekly basis. MLS stalwarts Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe are the second half. Both stars missed the Timbers’ last match and their whole team struggled. It’s likely that Valeri will return for this match with Nagbe more of a doubt. Even if it’s just the Argentinian returning, it still spells trouble for Atlanta’s defenders who have completely lost the plot over the past two matches. They’ll need to hope they’ve figured out what ails them during training this week or they could be in for another very long afternoon.
The news doesn’t really get any better when looking at the Atlanta side of things. Josef Martinez didn’t travel with the team as he’s still trying to get back to full match fitness. They were also hit with another surprise absentee with Greg Garza being held back for precautionary reasons as well. The leaves even more questions for Atlanta’s defense. Who will fill-in at left back? Whether it’s Mark Bloom, Mikey Ambrose, or even Miles Robinson or Anton Walkes it’ll be an unfamiliar look for the backline against an extremely dangerous attack. One bit of good news is that Yamil Asad returns from serving his one-match suspension and will be available. Despite his disciplinary problems early on this season, Asad has been one of the more consistent performers for the club on the left wing. He will need to stay discipline and have a good match if Atlanta are to have any chance of getting a positive result out of this one.
On paper this match-up honestly doesn’t look great for Atlanta. They’re shorthanded, struggling, going into a hectic environment, and playing a really good team. However, that’s what we said about D.C. United coming to Bobby Dodd Stadium and look how that turned out. This is MLS and anything can happen when you least expect it to. Don’t write Atlanta United off in this one just yet. Anything can happen in this wild and wacky league.
How to Watch
Venue: Providence Park, Portland, OR
Kickoff Time: 4:00 p.m. ET
Available TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes
Available Radio: 92.9 The Game (available via official ATLUTD mobile app)
This thread will be your match thread. We don’t have many rules here. We just ask that you don’t insult each other personally and treat each other with respect. Debates can get heated and that’s fine, but name-calling and petty insults will get you banned. If you see a comment that you feel is out of line, please report it and it will be dealt with.