Houston Dynamo at Atlanta United FC
Saturday, May 20, 2017, 6:00 p.m. CT
Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Some may say that the matchup between Atlanta United FC and the Houston Dynamo is a clash of styles. Atlanta have the second-highest possession percentage of any team in MLS at 58.2 percent, while Houston have the fifth-lowest percentage at 45.12 percent. But in reality, both of these teams are most dangerous when in the same phase of the game: transition.
The attacking players the Dynamo deploy have the speed and power to strike fear in any opponent, but they are not able to create chances while in possession. While Atlanta are a high-possession team, they are much more dangerous when Miguel Almiron gets the ball with space in front of him and Hector Villalba is trying to run behind the backline.
Whoever is able to get out in transition, and are not forced to string many passes together in the opposition half, will have the best shot at taking home all three points.
Atlanta United FC
Some have soured on the potential of Atlanta, and for good reason as they have won just once since March 18. But there's two important qualifiers to keep in mind when it comes to this team. They have played just one home game since that date, a 3-1 loss to D.C. United, and Josef Martinez has played just three games.
Martinez, who scored five goals in his first three games, is unlikely to return to the starting XI against the Dynamo, but Atlanta will finally get to play their fourth home game of the season. No team has played fewer home games entering the weekend. If you need to know how much of an advantage that has been this season, home teams have won 65 of 120 games while road teams have won just 26.
A game at Bobby Dodd Stadium should be just the thing to right the ship.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – F Josef Martinez (left quad injury), F Jacob Peterson (right lower leg injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): GK: Alec Kann – Tyrone Mears, Michael Parkhurst, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Greg Garza – Carlos Carmona, Jeff Larentowicz, Miguel Almiron – Julian Gressel, Hector Villalba, Yamil Asad
Notes: Atlanta have had 72.2 percent of possession at home, the highest amount of possession of any team when playing at home entering the week. Only one other team averages more that 60 percent of possession at home this season. Atlanta’s 58.4 percent duel success rate against Portland last week was their best in any MLS game they have played.
The Dynamo have been the best home team in MLS this season, winning six of their seven games at BBVA Compass Stadium and drawing the other. This has allowed them to collect 19 points in their first 11 games and the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference. Despite this, it's pretty clear Houston has a problem to deal with. They have yet to get any kind of result on the road, losing all four games.
Their latest loss came at the hands of the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night, losing 2-0 at Talen Energy Stadium. They will have an opportunity against Atlanta to finally get a result on the road, but don't hold your breath, a second road match in a week against a non-conference opponent could lead to some rotation in the starting XI.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – D George Malki (torn ACL), M Eric Alexander (right knee MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE – F Alberth Elis (hamstring injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): GK: Joe Willis — A.J. DeLaGarza, Adolfo Machado, Leonardo, DaMarcus Beasley — Juan David Cabezas, Ricardo Clark, Alex — Mauro Manotas, Erick "Cubo" Torres, Romell Quioto
Notes: Going into Wednesday night’s games, Houston only have two wins in their last 28 regular season road matches (18L-8D). They have been outscored 50-23 across these games, dating back to July 18, 2015.
- First matchup.
Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referees: Jeremy Hanson, Nick Uranga
Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar