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Match Preview: Atlanta United vs Real Salt Lake

Let’s hope this one goes a little smoother than Wednesday.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at San Jose Earthquakes Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

So how was everyone’s week? Pretty uneventful, right? It was a fairly quiet week for Atlanta United, who only managed to complete one of the most outrageous comebacks in recent memory.

Now that we’ve all caught our breath and caught up on sleep, it’s time to look ahead to the home game against Real Salt Lake on Saturday. There remains plenty of work to do for Tata Martino’s side and now is not the time for slip ups.

Keep your distance

Atlanta’s win on Wednesday evening saw them stretch their lead atop the Supporters’ Shield race to four points. With just five games remaining, keeping the distance between themselves and the New York Red Bulls is more important than ever. With that being said, we’ll need to see a much improved performance on Saturday if they are to hold their lead.

Despite a 4-3 win, Atlanta United’s performance was as bad as their opening day 4-0 defeat to the Houston Dynamo. It’s a worrying sign with the postseason approaching, but there is more than enough talent for this to be a very minor blip in form. It’s key that the team moves on and focuses on another west coast team, but one that is actually in contention for the playoffs.

Wednesday’s thrilling win saw Atlanta United set the new record for most away wins in the MLS post-shootout era. They also tied the record for away points, set by the Seattle Sounders in 2011.

A Real race for the playoffs

Over in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake are still fighting for their spot in the playoffs. Currently sitting in fifth, five points clear of the seventh place Vancouver Whitecaps but the pressure is on with few games remaining.

Real Salt Lake’s recent form has been hit and miss, with a couple of disappointing ties mixed in with huge six-goal outings against the Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy. It’s clear that they have the ability to erupt offensively, but have managed just two clean sheets in their previous 10 games. Against Atlanta, they’ll face the best attacking team in Major League Soccer and will need to lock things up in the back if they want to leave Atlanta with a point or three.

With Atlanta’s playoff berth confirmed and Real Salt Lake still looking to secure their spot, Saturday’s game has all the makings for a playoff atmosphere. It may not finish 4-3 or be heavily influenced by the lovable Video Assistant Referee, but we should be in for a good one at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.