MLS: Atlanta United vs. Sporting Kansas City preview
We are in Week 3 of Major League Soccer, and the game of the week features two teams that have won their first two matches and want to establish themselves as the team to beat in their respective conferences.
It’s a showdown in the ATL on Saturday, as Atlanta United hosts Sporting Kansas City. Who will walk out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium with three points and a claim to the title of best team in the league?
Atlanta United vs. Sporting Kansas City
|Atlanta United||Draw||Sporting Kansas City|
Atlanta United have been far from perfect
Atlanta United has struggled at times in its first two matches, but the club still has two wins, after a 2-1 victory at Nashville SC and a 2-1 score at home against FC Cincinnati. Ezequiel Barco and Emerson Hyndman have been the goal scorers, but with potent striker Josef Martinez out for year because of a knee injury, they are going to need to make up the 30 goals he would produce. Pity Martinez assisted on both goals last weekend, but he will be counted on to add to the goal column, as well.
The Atlanta defense will be tested, particularly with a three-man back line. Will it be able to hold off Sporting’s offense and make breaks on offense, like it has been so effective doing in its first few years in the league?
Alan Pulido has been on fire
Sporting Kansas City has looked terrific in its first two matches this season. The club won 3-1 at Vancouver, then pummeled Houston Dynamo, 4-0, in Kansas City. Sporting's biggest offseason acquisition, Alan Pulido, has been a star. He has goals in both games, as does Gadi Kinda, who also came to Kansas City in the offseason.
KC’s forwards and midfielders have done a great job to create scoring chances and finish. Khiry Shelton, Erik Hurtado, and Roger Espinoza have all joined Pulido and Kinda with goals.
Sporting is led on defense by former United States men's national team stars Graham Zusi and Matt Besler. If the club can shut down Atlanta’s attack and continue to show offensive flair, Sporting can be the victor on the road in Atlanta.
Atlanta United is traditionally very good at home. However, in the three times these teams have faced each other, the home team has not won. This will be a great match, but it will end in a 2-2 draw (+950), with both teams looking strong at various points in the match.