Orlando City is back on the road for the second time this week, four days after playing to a 1-1 draw in Colorado against the Rapids, this time gearing up for their first meeting of the season with Atlanta United at Mercedes Benz Stadium (3pm ET, ABC).
- Orlando and Atlanta split the season series in 2021, with neither team coming out on top of the other in the end, each finishing with a win and a draw across three games. The home team has won each of the previous two meetings.
- The Lions are searching hard for offense right now. They’ve only scored more than a single goal in two of the last nine games (including Open Cup). On the year, Orlando City has only scored three or more goals in a game just one time — the 5-3 loss to D.C. United on July 4. After over-performing on American Soccer Analysis’ expected goals totals earlier in the season, the Lions have come back to the mean and are right on pace with where the formulas say they should be, with 24 goals against an xG of 23.05 on the year — that’s the 7th lowest expected goals number in the entire league.
- Another not-fun stat from MLS: Orlando has been outscored 14–5 in the final 30 minutes of matches, with the resulting –9 goal difference worst in MLS after 60’.
- Atlanta United bounced back from a 3-0 drubbing against Austin FC last weekend with a 2-1 home victory over Real Salt Lake midweek. The win pushed the Five Stripes up to 10th in the Eastern Conference, three spots back of the playoff line. A win on Sunday would be the first time that Atlanta has won back-to-back matches since September of last season, a measure of how far they’ve fallen from their title-winning season in 2018.
- Orlando City has only lost twice on the road this season (3-2-5), while Atlanta United has only lost twice at home this season (5-2-3). Low-scoring draw incoming?
Injury and Disciplinary reports
OUT: Mason Stajduhar (jaw)
QUESTIONABLE: Adam Grinwis (right upper extremity)
QUESTIONABLE: João Moutinho (right lower leg)
No suspensions or yellow card accumulation warnings to be aware of this week.
Commentary and Prediction
Orlando’s in a bit of a rut right now. They’re struggling to score goals, as we’ve talked about plenty of late, and the same could be said of Atlanta United. At some point, you have to expect that we’re going to get one of those games where the flood gates open and all of the goals that are just backing up inside of this squad just start rushing out. It would be nice to think that this would be the game (likely not).
But hey, rivalry games – and this one might be considered the biggest of them for Orlando depending on who you ask – tend to bring out the extra bit of edge from both sides. Being in Atlanta, you can probably expect a large crowd and they’re not going to let United see this one slip away if they can help it. That, however, provides a good opportunity for Orlando to control the game if they can find a way to break through early and silence that stadium. Won’t be easy, but then again, is anything with this City side ever easy these days?