Preseason is over and the Five Stripes’ first competitive match of the year is on the cards. The CONCACAF Champions League draw was over two months ago but the knockout round matches now just days away from facing each other.
Motagua hosted Real España yesterday in what was their last league fixture before the first leg of the Round of 16. The Blue Cyclone entered the match first in the Liga Nacional Clausura and will remain at the top after the 1-0 win and their fourth consecutive victory.
They are undefeated at home in the Clausura having outscored opponents 9-1. The Hondurans also haven’t lost at home since last October, which puts more pressure on Atlanta who will seek to take something positive from this game and into the second leg.
Motagua’s squad has proven their consistency at both ends of the pitch this season. Only one other side has conceded fewer goals than the Blue Cyclone in the Clausura. The side has shutout opponents in four of the eight matches they have played in with three of these coming at home. Having conceded just one goal in four home fixtures, Motagua is proving to be an extremely difficult side to break down for traveling teams.
The Blue Cyclone leads the league in scoring having found the net 18 times in eight matches. Roberto Moreira will be the biggest attacking threat to the Five Stripes. The Paraguayan leads the Liga Nacional Clausura with six goals while forward Rubilio Castillo has also been lethal in front of goal having scored in three consecutive matches.
Atlanta will play both legs before their MLS league opener against Nashville SC. Motagua on the other hand will be at a disadvantage in regards to fitness as the side will play another league match before traveling to Atlanta on the 25th for the second leg.
What are your thoughts heading into the first leg with this new-look Atlanta side set to face an in-form Motagua?