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Unlike Impact, Atlanta United not expecting Fire to sit back and defend

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Last week’s match may have been an anomaly.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, Atlanta United broke through a Montreal Impact defense that was more than happy to park the bus, as the Five Stripes came away with a 4-1 win. This Saturday, Atlanta heads to Chicago where they’ll find a Fire team that has recently adopted a variance of a 5-man backline formation. Although this may indicate yet another potential matchup of attack versus defense, Greg Garza isn’t convinced that’ll be the case.

“Montreal was probably one of the first games other than against the Colorado Rapids last season where it was just frustrating to play against,” said Garza. “But that’s probably one of the only times I’ve seen a team not want to attack at all. Most teams in MLS don’t do that. It’s typically a back-and-forth league.”

Kevin Kratz thinks Chicago’s home-field advantage and their personnel could give them the motivation they need to go out and find goals.

“We’re playing at their stadium,” Kratz said. “They have some good players on their roster, like Bastian Schweinsteiger of course, who can adapt to situations if they are too deep. He can tell them to push forward more. I think everyone knows the way we play now, but we always have another system ready that we can switch to.”

Kratz is referencing Atlanta’s 4-3-3 system, which helped unlock Montreal’s defense after Miguel Almiron’s penalty conversion last weekend. AU’s formation adaptability during matches has made a key difference for the club so far this season. It’ll be interesting to see whether that versatility will be required again on Saturday.