The final five minutes of Atlanta United’s 3-3 draw with Montreal were as exhilarating as we’ll see all season, but more often than not the Five Stripes won’t be able to rely on long-range screamers to bail them out from a haphazard performance. Despite dodging a defeat against Montreal, there were more worry signs than positives to take away from the ninety minutes. Nonetheless, seven points from the first four games of the season are nothing to scoff at. The easy opening schedule that MLS handed Atlanta doesn’t feel so easy when you factor in the never-ending injury crisis and visa problems. But now that Gonzalo Pineda is getting his full roster available, commanding performances need to start making their appearance too. A visit to DC United, on the back of two straight losses, would be as good a place to start as any.
Despite missing out on the playoffs by one point last season, DC didn’t do much over the offseason in terms of strengthening the squad Hernan Losada’s second year in charge. Paul Arriola headed to FC Dallas while Kevin Parades made a jump to Wolfsburg. In turn, DC signed left wing-back Brad Smith from Seattle, Ecuadorian striker Michael Estrada (who missed last week’s trip to Toronto with an injury), and DP attacker Taxiarchis Fountas, who is waiting on a visa to join. Rather unsurprisingly, results have resembled that of a team that can’t quite make it over the red line so far. DC started the season with a pair of wins over Charlotte and Cincinnati thanks to luck more than anything, succeeded by losses to Chicago and Toronto.
After hosting three of its first four games at the Benz, Atlanta embarks on a lengthy away run in April. The Five Stripes travel to DC, Charlotte, Miami, and Montreal, with a home game against Cincinnati sandwiched in between. None of those sides made the playoffs last season and only DC currently sits above the red line. These are games that excellent teams win but the Five Stripes' only road match so far was a disastrous 3-0 defeat to Colorado. If Gonzalo Pineda can find a fix and give Atlanta some consistency, the good guys should be near the top of the Eastern Conference by May.
Atlanta completed the season sweep over DC last year, bringing its all-time record against the side from the capital to an even split at 6 wins each.
- 1-2 (A), 8/21/21
- 3-2 (H), 9/18/21
Predicted Starting XI
Prediction: DC United 1-2 Atlanta United
Atlanta’s unbeaten run will continue and the good guys will survive DC with all three points. Goals from Martinez and Almada will get the job done in a scrappy affair.