MLS – Week 20
Who: (8th) Houston Dynamo (8-8-3) at (3rd) Atlanta United (9-8-3)
When: July 17th, 2019 at 7:00 PM ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta
Atlanta United return home for some much needed home cooking. After a tough loss at the hands of the Seattle Sounders after a Josef Martinez goal in the 65th minute but moments after a Harry Shipp goal put Seattle ahead and was the decider for the match.
“It’s not bad luck, it’s not karma,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said after the game. “You make your own luck and we need to find a way to come out of this [funk]. It’s not bad luck, it’s not just one-off games. Another day, they could have had a few more. Second half, they hit the outside of the post, first half they got in behind us once or twice. It’s certainly not bad luck, it’s certainly not karma, it’s down to us. We need to be better.”
In the case of the Houston Dynamo a team who is also coming off a loss and their first loss at home all season at the hands of LAFC (3-1) who looks like last seasons United team but that is a conversation for another time. In a game that Houston scored in the opening minutes of the game LAFC scored three unanswered goals and took the Dynamo apart. Now both teams look to bounce back as they face of at the Benz.
“We play well in the first half, we play bad in the second half, and vice versa. We play a bad first half and a very good second half, so I think mentally we have to change something, because it’s not possible to play that way,” Cerén said of the team’s performances thus far. “Maybe, we have to bring more energy to the team, because it’s not possible to play two different halves.”
The Dynamo and Atlanta United are similar in their seasons in the way both teams are so outstanding at home but are so mediocre on the road. The Dynamo are at 1-7-0 before the road trip where they face Atlanta and then Toronto FC. In Atlanta’s last 5 matches they are (1-3-1). Atlanta’s winless streak to three games. Atlanta United continue to drop points and make work harder for themselves, but and a big but in 21 games we have 30 points and sit in great position to make a run for the no.1 spot in the East.
All-Time Series: 1-1-0 (regular season)
At Atlanta: 1-0-0
In this matchup these clubs have only met each other twice and each managing convincing wins. In 2017 Atlanta United won (4-1) in a performance where Miguel Almirón took over the game and had a hattrick at Bobby Dodd. In the following season the Dynamo returned the favor in a (4-nil) victory in Houston with goals from Mauro Manotas and Darwin Cerén. This would be the Dynamo’s first time playing at Mercedes-Benz.
In this match I’m oddly confident in that Atlanta will find a way to pick up the three points. Mainly because our home form is something the team relies on. Josef Martinez has 13 goals this season so far and that is tied for second with the Galaxys’ Zlatan Ibrahimović, and in the last 6 games Martinez has 9 goals. This season Atlanta has scored 28 goals and 17 goals have come at home. Also, since moving from Bobby Dobb to Mercedes-Benz Stadium United has scored 93 goals at home and with that record that is 18 more goals than the next team in that same span.
Houston’s Romell Quioto has scored in back-to-back games with will be an issue for a backline that right now everywhere full of suspensions and injuries. The worry for the Five Stripes would be to dictate the game from the kick because Houston boasts a 6-2-1 record when they score first. They may be 8th in the West but not a team to look past and remain a strong side. But it seems like defensively they are fragile in that for every goal scored they will concede 2 and in their last 4 road matches they have conceded 3 goals per game in that stretch. Finally, for Houston only 3 other goalkeepers have been forced into more saves than their own Willis. Atlanta must assert itself early and keep the proverbial foot on the gas.
- OUT: George Bello (D) – right adductor injury
- OUT: Hector Villalba (M) – knee injury
- OUT: Kevin Kratz (M) – quad injury
- OUT: Ezequiel Barco (M) – knee injury
- OUT: Florentin Pogba (D) – left thigh injury
- OUT: Brek Shea (D) – knee injury
- QUESTIONABLE: Mikey Ambronse (D) – left thigh spasms
- Franco Escobar (D) – Suspended
- OUT: Eric Bird (M) – hip injury
- OUT: Memo Rodriguez (M) – left hamstring