Atlanta United’s season seems to be slowly but surely moving in the right direction, but the road only gets rockier. The Five Stripes return from a two game road trip to host red-hot Orlando City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday.
The Lions are flying high on a nine-game unbeaten run. That’s seen Orlando shoot up the standings into 3rd on 29 points. Oscar Pareja’s side has a shot at the Supporters Shield as well, with just two points separating it from Columbus and Toronto, the joint leaders. Orlando has been lethal offensively, and its 28 goals are the most goals in the Eastern Conference so far. Chris Mueller is a significant part of that, and then some. The 23-year-old has seven goals and six assists in 15 games, which leads the team in both categories. There’s plenty more firepower, though. Nani (4G, 5A), Mauricio Pereyra (2G, 5A), and Daryl Dike (4G, 3A) are all sure to cause problems too. On the bright side, though, goalkeeper Pedro Gallese won’t be available for selection thanks to international duty. You may remember “The Octopus” for an incredible save on a Brooks Lennon header earlier this season.
Atlanta, meanwhile, has turned things around recently after a six game winless run, bagging two wins in the last three. Lennon (1G, 2A) and Jon Gallagher (2G) have played a big part in that, and, at 23 and 24 years old respectively, are signs of hope for not only the rest of 2020, but hopefully seasons to come as well. In this wild season a winning run can drastically change your position in the table, and it sure did for Atlanta. The Five Stripes are now back in the hunt for an automatic playoff spot, in 8th place on 17 points. Atlanta now needs to solidify its position, with just a sole point between it and 11th.
Predicted Starting XIs
Even with the recent run of form at its back, Atlanta will remain winless on the season against Orlando. The Lions will just be too much to handle, though it certainly looks like it’s going to be a close contest.