Preview: Sounders look to surprise Atlanta United’s large fan base

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FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 07: Seattle Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey (2) directs a teammate during a match between the New England Revolution and Seattle Sounders FC on July 7, 2018, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The teams played to a scoreless draw. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GEORGIA (July 13, 2018) – After two successful missions on the road, the Seattle Sounders FC will head back to the East Coast.

The team had two-straight away matches against the Colorado Rapids and New England Revolution, producing four points. A victory over the Rapids and a draw against the Revolution is a crucial feat for a struggling Sounders team.

Preview: Sounders look to surprise Atlanta United’s large fan base

Currently, Seattle sits in 10th place in the Western Conference with 16 points. Realistically, Seattle does have a shot to make the playoffs. However, a lot of work needs to be done.

Seattle will attempt to continue the four-point road trip momentum against Atlanta United on Sunday at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

Not only does Atlanta lead the Eastern Conference, the club also leads the entire MLS with 40 points. Tata Martino’s group of players has solidified themselves as one of the most successful franchises in the league – and Atlanta is only in their second season.

Atlanta United FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC
2018 MLS Regular Season
Mercedes-Benz Stadium
July 15, 2018 – 5 p.m. PT/2 p.m. ET
Stream: ESPN+

What to Watch For:

Atlanta United Fans

When the league announced Atlanta as an expansion club and the inaugural season kicked off last year, nobody could have expected the crowd size as it is now.

Instead, Atlanta has surpassed expectations – and smashed records – with crowds that normally reach more than 70,000 fans.

According to CNN, during World Cup Round of 16 matches with Portugal facing Uruguay and Argentina taking on France, crowds only reached up to around 45,000 fans. That same weekend, when Atlanta hosted Orlando City SC, the crowd reached 71,932 fans.

Atlanta United FC proudly stated in their match recap that the crowd was the “biggest crowd for a soccer match in the world on the day and the fourth-highest attendance in MLS history.”

Atlanta has no problem bringing fans in for matches – and this one is a high-profile match. No matter what Seattle’s place is on the Western Conference table is, the club is an MLS champion team and returned to the final match last year.

There is a history of success for both sides.

However, luck and success are on Atlanta United’s side right now. Seattle could shock everyone and pull off some sort of upset. Even a draw would be considered an upset against Atlanta United.

The Injury Report:

Seattle Sounders FC

Felix Chenkam is back in team training after combating a right hamstring strain. Meanwhile, taking his place on the injury list is Román Torres.

Torres has returned from the FIFA World Cup, where he represented – and captained – Panama. Despite falling out in the group stage, placing last in their group with England, Belgium, and Tunisia, Panama enjoyed a historic journey.

The World Cup was the first in Panama’s history.

Torres injured his left ankle in the final match against Tunisia. However, he is working his way toward a comeback, which brings Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer to a dilemma. During Torres departure to the World Cup, Kim Kee-Hee performed admirably on the center back line with Chad Marshall.

Seattle could soon return another member to the defense. Kelvin Leerdam is still listed as questionable with a right hamstring strain.

Handwalla Bwana is still listed as out, alongside Jordan Morris.

Atlanta United FC

Two prominent players are out for Atlanta United with long injuries.

Greg Garza, a defender, injured his shoulder on May 29 and was ruled out for 4-6 months. Garza was a regular starter this season and last for Tata Martino.

Meanwhile, Martino is also without a prominent midfield presence.

Former Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe injured his right adductor on June 24 and will be out for 2-3 months.

Last Meeting: March 31, 2017

Last year, the Seattle Sounders took the familiar trip down south.

Seattle flew across the United States to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face Atlanta United. However, the match ended in a scoreless draw. It was the first-ever meeting between the two sides. Atlanta has yet to visit CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington.

Prediction: Seattle 0, Atlanta 0

While it’s hard to guess with Brad Guzan in goal for Atlanta, it’s hard to argue that the former U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper has been inconsistent.

Not just for country, either.

Stefan Frei is certainly a more consistent goalkeeper. However, Guzan has a more experienced (in terms of chemistry) backline than Frei. Instead, Frei’s backline is still figuring out the language (Kim speaks Korean, but is learning English).

Either way, Sunday’s match will be one to tune in to.

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