Sunday night, Atlanta United will head to Kansas for the first match in club history. Sporting KC vs. Atlanta United will be a battle of the best offense and the best defense in the league. The Five Stripes head into the game unbeaten in their last five MLS matches while Kansas City comes in unbeaten in their last 8 MLS matches and last 11 across all competitions. Atlanta will be looking to potentially jump the New York Red Bulls for a fourth place spot in the Eastern Conference, while Sporting will be trying to hold off FC Dallas who is a mere two points behind the conference leaders while having played two fewer games.
Sporting KC vs. Atlanta United Preview: A Battle Of The Best Offense And The Best Defense
The match will be a battle of two polar opposites as Atlanta, who is tied for the most goals scored in the league with 41, will have to try to find a way to score against the stingiest defense in the league, allowing only 17 goals in 22 matches. Atlanta will also be looking to continue their good fortunes on the road as they’re tied for the second most road victories with four and are third in points earned on the road with 15 points being picked up in 12 matches.
Going into Children’s Mercy Park and picking up three points is much easier said than done though. Kansas City is unbeaten in their last 20 home games. The last time they lost at home was more than a year ago in a 1-0 loss to D.C. United May 27th, 2016. In 11 home matches this season, K.C. has only conceded 7 goals, but have scored 22 times.
Atlanta will once again likely be without team co-leading scorer Josef Martinez and definitely will be missing Greg Garza who separated his shoulder in the MLS All-Star Game. Garza leads defenders in chances created this season, and the team just doesn’t have the same attacking power that they usually do when Josef isn’t on the field. Kansas City will be playing their second match without their sixth highest scoring player in club history, Dom Dwyer, who was sent to Orlando City on a record-breaking transfer. The loss of Dwyer hasn’t affected K.C. though, as they beat the Chicago Fire by a score of 3-2 in the previous match. In addition to all of the other storylines, it’s also the debut weekend of the virtual assistant referee, or VAR, in MLS play to assist referees in making calls.
Even though the New York Derby is the same day, Atlanta and Kansas City will definitely be the best match of the weekend as the best offense takes on the best defense. Despite coming in missing a couple of big contributors on offense, we’ll see more of the same from Atlanta who is only 17th in shots taken per game, but have the most accurate shooting in the league with 53% hitting the target. Missing a defender that feeds the offense won’t hurt the attack style of Atlanta too much. Gerso Fernandes will find the back of the net first for Sporting, but it won’t be enough as Miguel Almiron will equalize and Hector Villalba will score the game winner to break Kansas City’s home unbeaten streak.