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Atlanta United vs DC United: Match Preview

A duel of the Uniteds

MLS: D.C. United at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United’s trip to LAFC went about as expected, with the added bonus that Brad Guzan put in his performance of the season in the net to rescue a point for the Five Stripes. Unfortunately, though, Guzan couldn’t do much on the other end of the pitch, and thus Atlanta’s winless run stretches to four (all draws). This weekend's visit from DC United to the Benz is both the perfect and all too necessary time to change that.

MLS: Charlotte FC at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

DC has fully bet on manager Wayne Rooney after his appointment last summer, despite a Wooden Spoon finish, bringing in major winter reinforcements to back the Englishman (though he appears to just be a short-term project with a contract expiring at the end of this season). To add to the short-lived nature of DC’s current identity, the vast majority of those additions were above thirty - Christian Benteke (31), Mateusz Klich (32), Victor Palsson (31), and Pedro Santos (34), just to name a few. Nonetheless, the results have proved DC’s trust in Rooney right so far. DC is currently 7th on 23 points, levels above previous seasons. It’s been quite solid on both sides of the ball, boasting the 6th-best attack and 8th-best defense in the East. While the backline has been stabilized by Rooney’s back three formation, Benteke (8g, 2a) and Klich (2g, 4a) add years of Premier League experience and quality to the mix. Those are the only players on DC with more than 4 goals and assists combined, however, and the Black and Red’s tactics have been decidedly reliant on long balls to Benteke - not a horrible strategy considering the Belgian stands at 6’3, but still quite one-dimensional. It’s been good enough, though, and DC has picked up points at a solid if not spectacular rate, with 2 wins and 2 losses in its last 7.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Los Angeles FC Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Guzan’s Wednesday night heroics, Atlanta’s form is sliding fast. The Five Stripes have one win in its last eight MLS outings, and though it remains 5th on 25 points, the top four is getting farther and farther away while the rest of the conference closes in. One of those teams is DC United, and others are the New York Red Bulls and NYCFC. That trio is also Atlanta’s next three opponents and if the current trend of draws and losses continues, the odds are Atlanta would be in a less-than-ideal spot in the standings by the time all is said and done. A few wins, though, starting with DC Saturday, would restore the Five Stripes’ hold on a higher seed in the East.

Previous Results

Atlanta has an 8W-0D-6L lead in the all-time series against DC, including victories in each of the last three meetings.

Predicted Starting XIs

Atlanta’s Predicted XI (4-2-3-1)
DC’s Predicted XI (3-4-2-1)

Prediction: Atlanta United 2-1 DC United

Atlanta will break its duck and finally return to the win column thanks to a superstar showing from Giorgos Giakoumakis, whose brace overcomes a Benteke goal for DC.