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What Expected Goals tells us about Atlanta United in Mercedes-Benz Stadium

It’s still early, but the new stadium is looking like a true fortress.

MLS: New England Revolution at Atlanta United FC Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United have played just two games in the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but all signs are pointing to it being a true home field advantage. We pointed out the obvious effect the larger playing surface had on Atlanta’s attack after the first match, a 3-0 win over FC Dallas.

According to Five Thirty Eight, the 3.8 Expected Goals (xG) compiled by the Five Stripes was their highest of the season to that point. In fact, it’s a full 1.4 goals higher than the next highest total (2.4 vs. San Jose on 7/4 at Bobby Dodd) For the uninitiated, xG is an advanced metric that calculates the expectancy of a goal from a shot attempt. For a better explanation, watch this video:

The extra space on the field has amplified Tata Martino’s exciting attack. Miguel Almiron has more space to operate and make plays. Josef Martinez has bigger gaps to run in behind. So on and so forth. While one game is not a great sample size, they followed up that match by topping their own season high with 4.2 xG against the New England Revolution.

So, within the first two matches, Atlanta United have set season highs in xG. That’s in comparison with 24 other matches.

  1. Atlanta vs. RBNY - 1.2 xG
  2. Atlanta at MNU - 1.7 xG
  3. Atlanta vs. CHI - 1.1 xG
  4. Atlanta at SEA - 0.6 xG
  5. Atlanta at TOR - 1.1 xG
  6. Atlanta at MTL - 0.4 xG
  7. Atlanta at RSL - 2.2 xG
  8. Atlanta vs. DCU - 2.2 xG
  9. Atlanta at NYCFC - 0.4 xG
  10. Atlanta at POR - 0.3 xG
  11. Atlanta vs. HOU - 1.7 xG
  12. Atlanta vs. NYCFC - 1.1 xG
  13. Atlanta at VAN - 0.4 xG
  14. Atlanta at CHI - 0.8 xG
  15. Atlanta vs. CLB - 0.9 xG
  16. Atlanta at DCU - 1.3 xG
  17. Atlanta vs. COL - 1.4 xG
  18. Atlanta at CLB - 1.4 xG
  19. Atlanta vs. SJ - 2.4 xG
  20. Atlanta at ORL - 0.4 xG
  21. Atlanta vs. ORL - 1.4 xG
  22. Atlanta at SKC - 0.8 xG
  23. Atlanta at DCU - 1.0 xG
  24. Atlanta at PHI - 1.2 xG
  25. Atlanta vs. FCD - 3.8 xG
  26. Atlanta vs. NE - 4.2 xG

Yes, there are extenuating circumstances like the Revs getting two first half red cards. However, the ability to create chances when the opposition is conceding possession is not always a certainty. Several times this season we’ve seen the team struggle mightily to create chances against a bunkered in defense. That’s been the only way most teams have been able to stop the uber-talented Atlanta attack. Now it appears that tactic may not be effective against them at home on the large field.

To say that Atlanta’s attack is “unstoppable” on the larger field would be hyperbole. However, there’s enough evidence so far to show that the extra space is legitimately beneficial in creating chances and scoring goals. If this type of production is sustainable, it’s looking very good for MBS’ status as a bonafide fortress in MLS.