Competition: Major League Soccer – Minnesota United vs. Atlanta United
Venue: TCF Bank Stadium – Sunday, March 12 – 17:00 ET (21:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Minnesota 6/4 – Draw 2/1 – Atlanta 7/4
Minnesota United take on fellow expansion side Atlanta United on Sunday evening in what will be another historic occasion for the league’s two newest members, with at least one of them set for their first MLS points in their only meeting of the year.
Minnesota have sold over 30,000 season tickets ahead of their first ever home game in the league and an incredible atmosphere is expected at what will be a freezing cold TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday.
The Loons have a lot to improve on following last Friday’s 5-1 defeat at Portland, in which they conceded two goals in stoppage time after a late collapse. Adrian Heath has had a lot to work on this week, but the defensive acquisition of Swiss full-back Jerome Thiesson should help ease some of the problems at the back.
Minnesota look set for a long and challenging season. They don’t have the financial muscle that other clubs in the league have and are relying on grit and determination to get them through their inaugural season. They still have enough experience to rack up wins and will be hoping they can see that here.
But Atlanta United will be out to spoil the party, a painful feeling they know too well after losing two late goals to the Red Bulls in last Sunday’s 2-1 defeat in their first ever MLS clash.
Atlanta showed a lot of positive signs but were ultimately undone by one of the league’s best teams. That’s nothing to be ashamed about but Tata Martino knows his side have enough quality to cause the Minnesota backline a ton of problems.
The South-American attack will likely find a lot more joy than they did against the Red Bulls and if they can get in behind Minnesota as a result of their high press, there could be an endless stream of chances for the visitors.
Both sides are still developing and still learning about themselves and the league. This is the perfect fixture for both these teams in Week 2 and all eyes will be on TCF Bank Stadium as we look to learn more about the two newest members of Major League Soccer.
We are more than just two cities…
— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) March 9, 2017
Minnesota have just the one injury concern ahead of their first ever home game in MLS, with Bernardo Anor ruled out with a hamstring problem. Adrian Heath has added defensive depth this week, with the addition of Swiss full-back Jerome Thiesson, who is expected to slot straight into the starting lineup as the Loons look to address their early defensive problems from last week’s heavy defeat in Portland.
Atlanta United have just the one injury concern themselves, with Zach Loyd ruled out with a groin problem. However, Tata Martino will have to change his lineup after Carlos Carmona picked up a needless red card last Sunday. The experienced Jeff Larentowicz will likely fill in for Carmona here.
Minnesota’s form: L
Atlanta’s form: L
Key Stat: Threat – Only four MLS teams had more shots than the 14 Atlanta United registered on opening weekend. That will be a concern for a Minnesota United team that conceded 25% of the total goals scored on opening weekend.
Key Player: Kevin Molino – The home crowd will be dreaming of a historic victory on what will be a special day for the city and they can look to Molino to provide the attacking spark needed to break down Atlanta here. If Molino rises to the occasion, he will be able to have fans off their seats throughout the contest.
Minnesota United 1-3 Atlanta United – This should be one of the season’s most memorable games for all the stories surrounding the game. The action on the field should be entertaining too, with neither side set up to defend, so that should lead to an open and attacking game. Atlanta have much more quality in the final third and should prove that.