Atlanta United vs DC United | 2018 MLS Match Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Atlanta United vs DC United

Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Sunday, March 11th 2018 – 15:00 ET (19:00 GMT)

Live on Sky Sports Football (UK)

Atlanta United vs DC United: Preview

Sunday evening sees Atlanta United lineup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for their first home game of the season as they welcome fellow Eastern Conference side DC United.

2018 started with a bang for Atlanta, although not the one they wanted. They were on the receiving end of a hammering from Houston. That 4-0 away loss was a shock to the rest of MLS as they conceded three goals in the first half hour.

A response is needed here. ‘Tata’ Martino’s side know they have to remind everyone what they are capable of. They enjoyed a very promising debut season last year and performed very well at home. So Atlanta need to make it their business to send out a message of their own here.

Standing in the way of that is DC United. They drew their season opener against Orlando so will be looking to be unbeaten at the very least after week two.

The two sides met three times last season and the record books look good for DC, who won all three. Keeping that winning run going is not going to be easy though.

Ben Olsen’s side did not travel overly well in 2017. They have failed to win in 12 of their last 13 on the road and face an Atlanta side who scored 48 goals at home last year, the most in an MLS debut campaign since 2010.

The tie also marks the return of Yamil Asad. The former Atlanta player has described returning to face his previous employers as a strange feeling. He showed the impact he can make on opening weekend, netting DC’s first goal of the 2018 campaign – just as he did for Atlanta last season.

Atlanta United vs DC United: Team News

Atlanta United

❌ Suspensions: None

❓ Doubts: Leandro Gonzalez (hip)

🚑 Out: Ezequiel Barco (right quad strain) and Jon Gallagher (ankle)

DC United

❌ Suspensions: None

❓ Doubts: None

🚑 Out: Russell Canouse (knee) and Taylor Kemp (groin)

Atlanta United vs DC United: Key Stats

Atlanta United’s MLS form: L

DC United’s MLS form: D

Key stat: DC United have won all three of the previous meetings between the sides.

Atlanta United vs DC United: Preview

Atlanta United 2-1 DC United – This should be a game that Atlanta go into with the belief they can win. Their confidence will have been rocked with the magnitude of that defeat last weekend but they cannot let that stop them playing the way they know they can. DC United will be looking at this one as a winnable game – but considering their inconsistency on the road weighed up against Atlanta’s home form, winning it is going to be a big ask.

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The five best Mexicans in MLS to watch in 2018

With the 2018 MLS season underway there is plenty of exciting action each week to keep you entertained. The league is continuing to grow at an alarming rate. More top-rated players are joining each season, highlighting an increasing desire to be involved in Major League Soccer. We’ve picked out the five best Mexicans in MLS to watch this season and what they bring to their side.

Carlos Vela – LAFC

The new boys for 2018, LAFC, picked up an impressive win in their first ever MLS outing away at Seattle. At the heart of that performance was Carlos Vela. Many Premier League fans will know of Vela from his time at Arsenal and brief spell at West Brom.

Although his time in England didn’t quite meet high expectations, the 29-year-old forward is a full international and has come to MLS off the back of the most consistent spell of his career. He is going to be one to watch this season.

Giovani Dos Santos – LA Galaxy

Arguably one of the most naturally gifted players in MLS. Giovani Dos Santos is in his fourth season with LA Galaxy, having scored 23 goals in 64 games. He has played for the likes of FC Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Villarreal – so has plenty of experience to his name.

At 28 he has a lot to offer LA Galaxy, including the ability to change a game at any moment. Dos Santos plays in a number of attacking roles and will be hoping to spearhead his side to better fortunes this season after a disappointing 2017.

Jonathan Dos Santos – LA Galaxy

Younger brother of Gio, Jonathan Dos Santos is also at LA Galaxy. He has made 29 appearances for the national team so far but fans haven’t yet seen his full potential in MLS as this will be his first full season.

The 27-year-old midfielder plays in a deeper role than his brother, but similarly can fit into a number of different roles.

Victor Ulloa – FC Dallas

The most experienced of the Mexicans in MLS in terms of appearances. Victor Ulloa has played 117 games since joining FC Dallas in 2011. A Homegrown player who has made a name for himself anchoring the Dallas midfield.

Although Ulloa isn’t always a guaranteed name on the team sheet, he is reliable and ready when called upon. At 26 he is yet to be called up for the Mexican side, but that is no reflection on his qualities.

Efrain Juarez – Vancouver Whitecaps

Signed from Monterrey using Targeted Allocation Money in January 2018, Efrain Juarez is a versatile option. He has played as a right back over the last few seasons, but is likely to be used as a central midfielder at Vancouver Whitecaps.

Juarez made his debut in the middle of the park in week one. Fans will hope his experience can help the Whitecaps go one step further this season to top the Western Conference.

Are these the five best Mexicans in MLS – who else should have made the cut?

MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 1 – LAFC stalwart leads by example

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that our defensive pick of the week comes from Los Angeles FC‘s stunning away win over Seattle Sounders. They become just the second expansion side to win their first away game in Major League Soccer history.

LAFC’s 1-0 saw an impressive collective performance. They were clean and simple on the ball and defended well when they didn’t have possession, as well as welcoming a little bit of good fortune at times.

A standout performance at the heart of the LAFC defence came from Lauren Ciman. The 2015 Defender of the Year has plenty of MLS experience under his belt and he remained calm at all times of the game. He made crucial blocks and chose to bring the backline up to press at the right time, while marshalling them to drop back and clear their lines when it was necessary.

How did Laurent Ciman perform in numbers? 

Ciman played the full 90 minutes as you’d expect from a centre half. In that time he made four interceptions to stop attacks, blocked two shots including a close-range effort, made six clearances and held a positive 75% pass accuracy.

His crucial block from a goal-bound Harry Shipp kept the score at 1-0 in the first half, which was a game-changing phase of play. Had Seattle scored at that point to level things it could have swung the momentum out of LAFC’s favour.

https://twitter.com/JogaBonito_USA/status/970434433940643840

Don’t miss – MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 1

Ciman’s performance was exactly what was needed from him as a captain and the LAFC faithful will be hoping to see that continue on a weekly basis. A thoroughly good, history making weekend for the MLS new comers and one for the fans to remember.

Orlando City vs DC United | 2018 MLS Match Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Orlando City vs DC United

Orlando City Stadium – Saturday, March 3rd 2018 – 19:30 ET (00:30 GMT)

Orlando City vs DC United: Preview

The opening game of Orlando City’s 2018 MLS season is to be played at home. They welcome fellow Eastern Conference side DC United to Orlando City Stadium as both sides kick off the new season with reason for optimism.

There have been some major changes to the Orlando roster during the offseason. Kaka has retired after his contract ended, which is a huge blow for the Lions. However, they have acted quickly to bring in a quality replacement in the form of Sacha Kljestan.

Orlando are yet to make it to the playoffs since their inception into MLS three years ago. The pressure is on them to make that happen this season. Jason Kreis has revamped his midfield and knows his side need to be more consistent. A home win in their season opener would go a long way to giving his new look side, and the fans, confidence.

DC United are in a similar position to Orlando for the start of the new season. They too have made improvements to their roster in the offseason. These were the bottom two sides in the East last season and will both be eager to show they are going to have a better 2018.

Making the playoffs will be the main aim for DC this campaign. They won’t want to make it two on the bounce where they fail to make the post season competition.

Ben Olsen will be expecting his side to show what they can do in this tie. However, DC have only won once in Orlando and they’re going to need to make a vast improvement on their away form from last season, where they came away with all three points on just three occasions.

Orlando City vs DC United: Team News

Orlando City

❌ Suspensions: Sacha Kljestan (Red Card) – following his red card for his altercation with Jozy Altidore in the Eastern Conference semifinal, Kljestan serves the first of his two match ban.

❓ Doubts: None

🚑 Out: Uri Rosell (fitness), Dillon Powers (ankle), Josue Colman (thigh bruise) and Dom Dwyer (quad strain)

(Take a look at all Orlando City’s key transfer business this winter by clicking the image above)

DC United

❌ Suspensions: Luciano Acosta (Red Card)

❓ Doubts: Darren Mattocks (Calf)

🚑 Out: Russell Canouse (knee sprain) and Taylor Kemp (sports hernia surgery)

(Take a look at all DC United’s key transfer business this winter by clicking the image above)

Orlando City vs DC United: Key Stats

Orlando City’s MLS form: N/A

DC United’s MLS form: N/A

Key stat: Orlando City have won their last three home games against DC United.

Orlando City vs DC United: Prediction

Orlando City 2-1 DC United: An opening weekend win for Orlando looks a likely outcome for this one. Both sides are missing key playmakers through suspension but given DC’s poor away record last season and their inability, so far, to cause Orlando major problems, this is a game may well follow suit.

David Villa vs Sebastian Giovinco: How the strikers compare

Two sides expected to battle for MLS supremacy in 2018 will go head-to-head in the Eastern Conference again. It’s New York City FC vs Toronto FC and that also means David Villa vs Sebastian Giovinco in the scoring charts.

Toronto kick things off with the season opener on Saturday at home against Columbus Crew, while NYCFC aren’t in action until Sunday evening. They face a trip to SKC.

They were the top two sides in the East last season, however Toronto finished 12 points ahead, winning the Supporters’ Shield. Interestingly the pressure on Villa to deliver the good is seemingly more than Giovinco. NYCFC scored 56 goals last season, compared to Toronto’s 74.

Both players head into their fourth season. Villa is yet to win any silverware, while Giovinco and Toronto are looking to defend their historic treble from 2017. There is no doubting how influential they both are and how much of an impact they can have on how their side performs respectively. But how do the two compare?

David Villa vs Sebastian Giovinco in stats

David Villa vs Sebastian Giovinco compared

Their stats are incredibly similar. Villa has played in an additional eight games, mainly due to Giovinco’s injury struggles last season. Villa’s goal output is higher, having scored eight more goals.

However, Giovinco’s direct involvement in overall goals is where he comes into his own. In his 86 appearances he has contributed to 92 goals, with his 37 assists nearly doubling Villa’s 21.

Villa does however have a better minutes per goal ratio, making him the more clinical of the two with his chances.

Last season Villa finished on 22 goals, while Gio netted 16. They were outscored by Nemanja Nikolic, who topped the standings with 24. Both players will have an eye on winning the golden boot this season. Although personal accolades aren’t going to be their main aim, it’s going to be an interesting battle to watch.

Who will score more goals this season? 

Will there be a new all-time MLS leading goal scorer in the 2018 campaign?

The excitement is ramping up as the 2018 Major League Soccer season is just five days away. Clubs have been busy and it looks set to be one of the most competitive seasons ever given the influx of quality players into the league. However, one of the veterans could become the new all-time MLS leading goal scorer if stats are anything to go by.

That man is Chris Wondolowski. The San Jose Earthquakes forward is on an impressive 134 goals in 293 MLS games. The current record holder, Landon Donovan, sits top of the pile on 145, meaning Wondo needs just 12 goals to break the record.

Wondo’s form over the last five seasons suggests he is on course to net the 11 goals needed to equal the record. Age hasn’t yet been an issue for him either, despite celebrating his 35 birthday in the offseason, his form has been extremely consistent since turning 30 in 2013.

MLS leading goal scorer: Can Wondo break the record?

He has averaged 13.2 goals across his last five seasons. Wondo has not scored less than 11 goals in a season since 2009. He didn’t become a regular scorer until the 2010 season so the stats make for positive reading.

While Wondolowski won’t be playing for just personal accolades, he will surely have an eye on the record and will hope he can hit the ground running when MLS kicks off in less than a week.

Will Wondo break the all-time MLS leading goal scorer record this season?

2018 Key Transfers: Chicago Fire

As the 2018 MLS season closes in, we will run through the key additions and losses for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we look at all Chicago Fire’s key transfers and what it could mean for them in their 2018 MLS campaign…

Chicago Fire were impressive during the 2017 season. Finishing in the top three was a major improvement on the previous year, although they did fall short at the first hurdle in the playoffs. Now it is time for Veljko Paunović’s side to kick on and see if they can reach the playoffs for the second season on the bounce. There have been some high profile departures from the squad with as many as 13 shown the exit door. The Fire have added five new faces so far but it would be a surprise to see their business stop there…

Key signings

Grant Lillard: Tipped as one of the best college soccer players over the last four years, Grant Lillard is an exciting prospect for Chicago. The 6-foot-4 central defender is rated highly by General Manager Nelson Rodriguez who feels he can become a dominant player. Lillard featured in an Indiana University side that conceded just seven goals in 25 games, so it is clear he has the potential to be a future star. While he may not be expected to be a regular starter in his rookie season, he will no doubt be utilised and coming up against some of the best attacking sides in MLS is only going to help him improve his qualities.

Rafael Ramos: Another defender with the potential to make an impact for Chicago. Rafael Ramos is a name familiar to MLS having been at Orlando City since their introduction to the league back in 2015. He’s made 37 appearances in his MLS career so far and at just 23 there is plenty of time for him to become a regular feature of the Fire backline. Providing healthy competition for Matt Polster will be beneficial to improving Chicago’s squad depth.

Jon Bakero: When talking about having a name to live up to, there might not be a huge amount of people who can tell you much about Jon Bakero. He is the son of former Spanish international and Barcelona attacking midfielder Jose Mari Bakero. The 21-year-old is looking to follow in the footsteps of his father and make a name for himself, and while he has not yet played in Europe, his inception into MLS has an impressive back story. He was awarded with the Hermann Trophy as the NCAA’s top player for 2017 and the Class Award during his senior college year. His commitment to college soccer has shown his desire to succeed and signing through the SuperDraft is a clear indication of his efforts paying off. Bakero is going to be one to keep an eye on…

Aleksander Katai: The Serbian has come in on loan from Deportivo Alaves. As a versatile option in either attacking midfield or on the wing he is seen as a positive addition to the Chicago squad and someone who can help fill the void left by recent departures.

Notable Departures 

John Goossens: The loss of John Goossens might not come as too much of a surprise for many, however he will be a player Chicago will miss having in the squad – highlighted by the number of times he featured for the Fire last season. The midfielder made 24 appearances in the 2017 campaign, starting 15. He was an important member of the squad who surprisingly was their second-highest assist provider with four, while he added three more goals himself.

Joao Meira: Chicago’s top four appearances makers were defenders and Joao Meira was one of them. A fundamental part of their backline, he started 27 of his 30 games in 2017 but is now a free agent. After 58 appearances with Chicago during his two seasons with the club he signed a contract with Lorca FC in the Spanish Segunda, although his contract has since been terminated after the side failed to meet their previously agreed terms, leaving him in limbo.

David Accam: The biggest departure from Chicago has to be David Accam – their top scorer in the 2017 campaign. The winger, who as we all know has blistering pace and the ability to create something from nothing, has moved on to Eastern Conference rivals Philadelphia Union. He will be a huge miss for the Chicago starting XI and is yet to be replaced with a like-for-like attacker in terms of quality and experience.

Arturo Alvarez: Another Chicago player who has left the club after two seasons is Arturo Alvarez. He has been traded to Houston Dynamo after featuring 25 times during the 2017 campaign. Alvarez netted three goals and provided a further two assists last season but struggled to be selected on a consistent basis having started just 13 games. Despite all that, he was a frequently used squad player who Chicago will be looking to replace with like-for-like experience given that he is about to begin his 15th MLS campaign.