Competition: Major League Soccer – Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew SC
Venue: Bobby Dodd Stadium – Saturday, June 17 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)
Match Odds: Atlanta 19/20 – Draw 13/5 – Columbus 5/2
Atlanta United welcome Columbus Crew to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday evening for their first ever MLS clash, with the return of Josef Martinez offering a major boost to the home side.
Atlanta have picked up their form a little in recent weeks, winning a third consecutive home game with Wednesday’s 3-2 US Open Cup success of Charleston Battery. Their away form remains a major concern at this stage, but the fact that Saturday’s game is in front of their own fans will fill them with confidence.
Tata Martino’s side are still adapting to life in MLS as well as learning his tactical style of play but the signs are encouraging and the expansion side know a win on Saturday would move them back into the playoff spots in the East – for a few hours at least.
Columbus enter the weekend just four points in front of Atlanta and have lost four of their last five, including the shock 1-0 Open Cup loss at FC Cincinnati on Wednesday evening.Embed from Getty Images
Gregg Berhalter’s side are expected to seal a top six finish this season but complacency looks to be setting in at a pivotal stage of the campaign.
Crew SC have only picked up six points from a possible 24 on the road this season, so improving their away record has to be a priority for the remainder of the season.
Jacob Peterson remains out for Atlanta United although Josef Martinez is back and set for his first MLS start since the 4-0 win over Chicago in Week 3.
Columbus will be without Nico Naess, Ben Swanson and Gaston Sauro for Saturday’s trip to Georgia. Kekuta Manneh is listed as ‘questionable’ and is unlikely to feature.
Atlanta’s form: D/W/W/L/L
Columbus’s form: W/L/L/W/L
Key Stat: Columbus Crew have lost four straight matches in MLS and the US Open Cup, being outscored 10-2 in that time.
Key Player: Josef Martinez – The Atlanta forward marked his long-awaited return from injury with a goal on his first start since March in Wednesday’s Open Cup win over Charleston. Including preseason, he now has ten goals in eight appearances for Atlanta and will look to take down Columbus here.
Atlanta United 3-1 Columbus Crew – The return of Martinez makes Atlanta much more of a threat and his return should see Atlanta pick up a third-straight MLS win at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Columbus have struggled away from home but will fancy their chances of finding the net against a leaky Atlanta defence that hasn’t kept a clean sheet since April.