A point on the road against Nashville isn’t usually worth much excitement, but Atlanta United’s 2-2 draw in Tennesse two weeks ago still brightened the mood considerably in Five Stripes land. With almost an entire starting eleven of players out, it took a herculean effort to bring a result back to Georgia. And while the point failed to stop Atlanta’s winless run from stretching to seven games, it could be a launch pad for a turnaround in form. The Five Stripes’ upcoming schedule doesn’t bode well for hopes of a positive run, however. New England, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Orlando are all on deck in a hectic two-weeks.
Atlanta returns from a mini-international break with a visit from the Revolution, current Eastern Conference leaders with 24 points. Bruce Arena’s side have stumbled recently, however, and is winless in three. New England’s defense has been most to blame. It boasts the fifth-worst expected goals against in the Eastern Conference and conceded multiple goals in each of its last five outings. The Revolution has no such struggles in the final third, where it leads the East in expected goals and actual goals. Carles Gil is the star of the show and has 2 goals and 7 assists to his name so far. He averages 8.46 shots created per game and leads New England in touches, dribbles, and goals created. The Spanish playmaker is the center of the Revolution’s play in the final third but he isn’t the sole threat. Gustavo Bou leads New England with 6 goals (plus 2 assists), DP striker Adam Buksa has 5 goals, and Tajon Buchanan has 3 goals and assists apiece. The 22-year-old is away with Canada in the Gold Cup and leaves a gaping hole for Teal Bunbury to fill on the right flank.
Predicted Starting XIs
Atlanta’s injury list is scarcely believable, and the crisis doesn’t seem to be alleviating anytime soon. Mo Adams and Alex de John are now sidelined after injuries against Nashville and Santiago Sosa is suspended for yellow card accumulation. The Five Stripes are still without its four international call-ups, while New England is missing only Tajon Buchanan.
With de John and Sosa out, a return to the 4-3-3 from the 3-5-2 against Nashville seems likely. George Campbell and new signing Amar Sejdic look set for their first starts of the season. Jackson Conway showed he can be a game-changer against Nashville and with Josef Martínez frozen out, the starting spot is his to claim.
Prediction: Atlanta United 2-2 New England Revolution
Meeting the best attack in the East without your two best defensive players is going to cause Gabriel Heinze plenty of headaches but Atlanta still has a shot at taking points off the Conference leaders. Carles Gil will run the show with Sosa out but a Conway brace will keep the Five Stripes on level footing with the Revs.