With all of the rumors of Gabriel Heinze potentially taking over as Atlanta United’s 3rd ever head coach, it’s been easy to forget that the Five Stripes have a Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal second-leg tie with Club America coming up on Wednesday. Don’t get your hopes up at a deep run, though. The Mexican side holds a commanding 3-0 aggregate lead from the first leg, completed one day before North American soccer shutdown.
Lead by none other than Miguel Herrera, Las Aguilas finished third in the Liga MX Apertura with 32 points in 17 games (1.88ppg). Club America’s run in the playoffs was not so successful, crashing out 3-1 on aggregate to seventh-seed Chivas Guadalajara in the quarter-finals. America boasts the top attack in Liga MX with 31 goals, with Henry Martin (7g, 1a) and Federico Vinas (6g, 2a) causing most of the problems. In fact, when Atlanta fell 3-0 to the Mexican side back in February, it was Martin who scored America’s second.
Las Aguilas do have a weakness, though. Club America’s 22 goals conceded are the most of the top ten teams in Liga MX and it has registered just four shutouts all season. Atlanta doesn’t seem to be the team that will take advantage, especially minus the Austin-bound Jon Gallagher, who lead Atlanta’s goalscoring charts in 2020.
The Five Stripes have just two wins in its last ten and weren’t showing any signs of revival as the season winded down. By the time kickoff rolls around, Atlanta will have gone 38 days since it was last in action, a 2-1 loss to MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew. Rust will be the least of Atlanta’s worries, however. Averaging just one goal a game, the absences of Josef Martinez and to a lesser extent Pity Martinez, have wrecked the Five Stripes’ chances in front of goal. If Atlanta is to somehow advance, it would have to score 3 goals in one game for the first time since the Round of 16 second-leg victory over Motagua. All three goals that night were scored and assisted by Josef and Pity. But we’ve seen much stranger than an Adam Jahn hat-trick in 2020...
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Atlanta United 1-3 Club America
Wednesday night’s clash certainly won’t provide the best soccer of the day. Both sides have been out of action for several weeks at least, while we’re all too aware of Atlanta United’s watchabilty rating this season. Club America should walk into the semifinals on the back of a comfortable win, while Atlanta can fully focus on wheeling and dealing in the transfer market to get a squad that fits under Gabriel Heinze.