Stephen Glass’s time in charge of Atlanta United commenced with a satisfying 2-0 victory over Nashville, but tougher (much tougher) challenges lie ahead. The Five Stripes now take the show on the road, and visit Inter Miami this Wednesday.
Atlanta was the better team Saturday night, and the few weaknesses that were spotted could be put down to rust. Pity Martinez found the back of the net for the first time in nearly eleven months, and made sure to do so in style as well. It’s too early to tell if this is the real Pity now that De Boer is out of the equation, but a string of performances of that quality would inspire hope, to say the least. In general, too, how the team shapes up against a more complete side like Miami will give us a good look at the most fragile aspects of the current roster, as well.
Miami had a less than stellar start to its MLS career, losing its first five in a row. The Floridian outfit finds itself in 13th. That’s not the full story, though. Diego Alonso’s side was defeated by just a single goal in each of those five matches, and has since reversed the skid with a 3-2 win over Orlando in its most recent match. Not only did they beat their in-state rivals, but Miami’s attack showed its potential for the first time all season. In the five games prior, a mere three goals were scored. That tally doubled Saturday night, off the back of great performances from two of Miami’s big names. The 20-year-old multi-million dollar signing, Julian Carranza, opened his MLS account with a brace. Designated Player Rodolfo Pizarro also got in on the action with a goal and an assist. The final third had been the biggest weakness, but now that Pizarro and Co. have had time to click, the rest of the league may need to watch out.
Speaking of watching out, there’s one player that Atlanta won’t need to keep an eye on: Blaise Matuidi. The Frenchman isn’t with the team yet after his recent move from Juventus, so it may be a few more weeks until he’s on the pitch. On the other hand, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez has slotted into the starting lineup for Miami, so we’ll get to watch a familiar face again.
Predicted Starting XIs
*Edit: Franco Escobar has been suspended for one game, so either Laurence Wyke will slot in at RB, or Brooks Lennon will drop back and be replaced by Manuel Castro at RW.
Prediction: Inter Miami 2-2 Atlanta United
Miami’s position in the standings is untrustworthy, and Atlanta is certain to find that out Wednesday night. The two Southern teams will play out an draw, with the two respective attacks continuing their good form. Not much will separate either side, but we should be in for a fun one!