Atlanta United play host to LAFC on Sunday afternoon, as they look to take another step in the right direction having gained their first win in a long time last week. The visitors, who’ve not been in great form of late, will be looking to do better.
This will be just the third time that the pair have met. Back in 2018, Atlanta ran riot at this venue, winning by five goals to nil, though LAFC had their revenge a year later, emerging victorious from an epic west-coast tussle, winning by four goals to three.
Atlanta United – Not easy to beat at home
The Five Stripes have lost each of their last two at home, but that doesn’t mean that they’re easy to get the better of at this venue. Each of those losses was by a single goal, while Sunday’s hosts were unbeaten in five at Mercedes Benz Arena before that.
In only two of their seven home matches have the hosts conceded more than one goal, while they’ve not given too much away in general. It is in the final third where problems start to arise. Atlanta has scored fewer goals than all but one team in the Eastern Conference this season.
Expected Line-Up: Guzan – Robinson, Franco, Walkes – Bello, Sosa, Rossetto, Hernandez – Barco, Conway, Moreno.
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LAFC – Out of sorts
It wasn’t long ago that LAFC looked to be an MLS Cup winner waiting to happen, but since capturing the Western Conference in 2019, their progress has halted. Last term, they failed to kick on finishing no higher than sixth, while this term, it seems that they’ve not really moved forward either, as they’re currently in seventh position, and are without a win in five matches.
The problem right now for LAFC is at the back. Sunday’s visitors are scoring goals, misfiring just once this season, but they’re finding it extremely tough to keep teams at bay, conceding at least once in each of their last six. They’ve conceded twice in five of those six, so it’s fair to say that some tightening up is required.
Expected Line-Up: Romero – Kim, Murillo, Blackmon, Palacios – Cifuentes, Atuesta, Blessing – Vela, Rossi, Rodriguez.
Expert Pick #1 – Under 2.5 Goals @+130
At the current odds, ‘Under 2.5 Goals’ appeals as the best betting option here. Atlanta’s offensive struggles at home is the driving force behind such a pick, but the fact that the hosts have performed reasonably well defensively strengthens the claims, as does the fact that the visitors have been on a relative goal drought on the road this term, scoring more than once in only one of their eight travelling fixtures.
Moreover, the hosts are the second worst team in the Eastern Conference not only in terms of goals scored but in terms of expected goals for too. In general, Atlanta’s home games haven’t exactly been hotbeds of creativity, which is probably why only two of the last six at Mercedes Benz Arena have yielded more than two goals. The hosts are without a goal in three at home now, though they’ve not conceded more than once during that time, so don’t be surprised if the score is low in Atlanta on Sunday evening.
Expert Pick #2 – Both Teams to Score – NO @+145
Staying on the low-scoring theme, a small play on at least one of the duo to misfire makes sense too. As touched upon already, Atlanta, who will be without their biggest goal threat, who misses out through suspension, have been struggling for goals at home in recent times, scoring in none of their last three in front of a home crowd. Add in that LAFC haven’t been at their attacking best on the road for some time, averaging little over a single goal per game and the chances of a match where at most one team scores start to look a little greater than the early odds suggest.
Expert Pick #3 – Draw @+250
If opting for a low-scoring game in the betting isn’t your thing, then another option is to go with the draw. If we look at the efforts of both in their respective home and away matches, there’s little between the pair, especially offensively. Moreover, there’s been little between teams at this venue on a regular basis of late. Atlanta’s last three home scores read 0-1, 0-1, and 0-0, while the visitors certainly don’t have a habit of winning or losing by wide margins on their travels, with six of their eight away games being settled by just a single goal.
On paper there’s little between these two and that’s likely to play out on the pitch. Atlanta are finding goals hard to come by at home, but at the same time, are by no means weak defensively, at least not by Eastern Conference standards. Similarly, the west-coast visitors haven’t been hitting the heights in the final third when playing away, so a low-scoring encounter is fancied.