By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer
The Union will be looking to end their recent run of disappointing results against Atlanta United in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday.
Coming off of a goalless draw against Columbus Crew and a 2-1 loss to Inter Miami CF, the Union have not been putting on strong performances as of late. They’ve only scored once in two league games, and have fallen victim to rather elementary defensive mishaps, but their dominance over Deportivo Saprissa in the CCL round of 16 is encouraging for this fixture. One could argue that the less-than-ideal league record is a result of the Union focusing more on the CCL than MLS—a rookie mistake for a team that has never had to focus on competing in two different competitions before. That being said, Saprissa might not exactly be the powerhouse that Atlanta is, but a 5-1 aggregate score is nothing to sniff at. The Union will be hoping to deal out another cohesive, comfortable, and calm performance against Atlanta.
It’s not an insurmountable goal, either. Of the seven times the Union and Atlanta have faced off against each other, the Union have only won once and tied twice, but, and this might be a controversial statement, that doesn’t mean much. The Union are not the team they were in the past. They’ve learned, they’ve grown, and they’ve prospered past the obscurity that once burdened their shoulders. Don’t count out the Boys in Blue—they absolutely stand a chance at beating Atlanta if they can get their act together.
Predicted Starting XI: Blake, Elliot, Glesnes, Mbaizo, Wagner, Martinez, Flach, Bedoya, Monteiro, Przybylko, Fontana
- Jim Curtin has been a creature of habit this season. He’s shown a considerable amount of faith in this starting lineup, and there’s nothing to suggest that he’s going to change it. The only switch-up from the team that started against Miami could be benching Sergio Santos (who was pretty ineffective against Miami) and throwing homegrown Anthony Fontana back in the mix for a young, energetic presence in front of the goal.
Score Prediction: It’ll be a close game. Obviously, both teams want to pull ahead on aggregate, and will want to do so by as big of a scoreline as possible. While their recent caliber of play won’t be enough to beat Atlanta, the Union certainly won’t go down easily. They’ll fight to the final whistle, but I’m seeing a 2-1 loss for this game.