DC United vs. Atlanta United | 2017 MLS Match Preview
D.C. United vs. Atlanta United FC
2017 MLS Regular Season
RFK Stadium – Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, June 21 – 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
Two months ago, D.C. United headed into their away game at red-hot Atlanta United FC with few outside the Washington metro area giving them any kind of chance. The first 10 minutes or so seemed to bear that out, as Atlanta dominated the visitors, but when the clock hit 90 minutes, D.C. were walking out 3-1 winners.
It's safe to say D.C. could certainly use a similar result when Atlanta make the return trip on Wednesday – they’ve won just one of their seven games since that win at Bobby Dodd Stadium and sport an ugly 0-3-1 home record in that time span.
No area of the team has been perfect, but there is one particular part that has stuck out like a sore thumb for D.C.: the attack. Following a 2-0 loss at Toronto on Saturday, DCU have come up empty in 10 of their 15 games this season and their 10 goals are comfortably the lowest in the league. (It’s not like they’ve been unlucky, either.)
Ben Olsen and his men may well get their chances against what has proven to be a wobbly Atlanta backline – but can they be as opportunistic as they were in April?
The quest for goals continues for D.C., and there’s no apparent individual solution in sight. With Patrick Mullins injured and both Jose Ortiz and Alhaji Kamara reportedly on their way out the door, it will most likely be up to Lamar Neagle to once again lead the line, though Sebastian Le Toux – who scored against Atlanta earlier this year – may also have a case to start. But regardless of who gets the final touch when it does come, scoring remains a team effort for D.C.
“We’re a team built to do everything together. We don’t have that star power. What we do, and what we’ve done best in the past, is defend together, and attack together,” winger Patrick Nyarko told Black & Red United after the game. “For some reason, this year, we haven’t been doing that at all. That’s the basics we need to get back to. We attack in numbers, we defend in numbers. This year we’ve gotten away from that.”
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – M Rob Vincent (left knee meniscus), M/D Nick DeLeon (lower abdominal strain), D Sean Franklin (hamstring injury), F Patrick Mullins (knee surgery)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, right to left): Bill Hamid – Chris Korb, Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare, Taylor Kemp – Jared Jeffrey, Ian Harkes – Lloyd Sam, Luciano Acosta, Patrick Nyarko – Lamar Neagle
Notes: D.C. United have struggled at home this season, winning just two of their eight home games (4L-2D). The club’s two home wins are the second fewest in the league. … In the eight games Bobby Boswell has started for D.C. United this season, the team averages 1.3 points per game. In the seven games he has not started, that number falls down to 0.7 points per game. Boswell is averaging 6.0 clearances per 90 minutes played this year, 10th-best in the league amongst players who have started at least five games.
The big story coming out of Atlanta over the weekend was a return to full force for Atlanta’s fearsome trio of Designated Players – Hector Villalba, Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez – who all found the scoresheet in a 3-1 win over Columbus Crew SC, with Martinez’s first goal after a 10-game injury layoff a particular high point.
For all their attacking prowess, however, Atlanta recognize that they must do better on the defensive end, especially against a D.C. side that will present a much greater threat on set pieces than Columbus.
“We didn’t play against a very tall team today, but especially when we play teams such as [D.C. United], they use set pieces to their benefit,” said Greg Garza after Saturday’s win. “It’s a much different game than what you’ll see from Columbus. “As long as we have that concentration level as high as possible, I think we can figure that out.”
- Suspended: M Carlos Carmona (yellow card accumulation)
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – Jacob Peterson (right lower leg injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, right to left): Alec Kann – Tyrone Mears, Michael Parkhurst, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Greg Garza – Jeff Larentowicz, Julian Gressel – Hector Villalba, Miguel Almiron, Yamil Asad – Josef Martinez
Notes: Despite winning just two road games, Atlanta has scored 1.7 goals per game on the road, the second most in the league. … Josef Martinez scored on his return from injury, his fifth of the MLS season so far. His goals per 90 minutes played average is 1.7. The next best amongst MLS players with at least five goals is Nemanja Nikolic, with 0.8 goals per 90 (33 players have at least five goals so far this year).
This will be the first meeting in Washington, D.C. between the two sides following D.C.'s win in Atlanta on April 30.
- Overall: DC 1 win (3 goals) … ATL 0 wins (1 goal) … Ties 0
- At DC: First meeting
Referee: Nima Saghafi
Assistant Referees: Cameron Blanchard, Danny Thornberry
Fourth Official: Robert Sibiga