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Week 9 Preview: Union vs. Atlanta United

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By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer

The wait is finally over! After a three week break, the Union return to MLS play with a trip down south to take on Atlanta United in their continuing quest to snag the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Union are coming into this match with four wins in their last five games, including a 3-0 victory over the Portland Timbers going into this extended break. Atlanta, on the other hand, have taken just two wins away from their last five matches.

The Boys In Blue are recovering from a shaky start to the MLS season, and it will be the hopes of both the players and head coach Jim Curtin, who recently signed a two-year contract extension, that the three week break will not have negatively affected the momentum the Union had been gaining before the pause in play.

Tactically speaking, Union will most likely be employing their tried-and-true back four defense and diamond midfield formation, as Curtin has not been known to stray from the 4-4-2 strategy he’s used all of 2021. The only regular starter this season that will not be available for selection is Jose Martinez, who was called up to represent the Venezuelan national team for the first time as they compete in the Copa America. While Martinez is the preferred man for the defensive midfield spot, the Union has admirable depth in midfield, so Curtin will not be scrambling to find an adequate replacement as long as Martinez is away on international duty.

Predicted Lineup: Andre Blake; Jack Elliott; Olivier Mbaizo; Kai Wagner; Jakob Glesnes; Leon Flach; Anthony Fontana; Alejandro Bedoya; Jamiro Monteiro; Sergio Santos; Kacper Przybyłko

  • Anthony Fontana will likely fill in for Martinez, given that Curtin has said multiple times this season that he’s committed to giving the younger players more minutes in the senior team. While the Union have fared well against Atlanta so far this season, Curtin won’t be taking any chances with his offense, stacking the forwards with Santos and Przybylko, and giving them ample assistance in midfield with Bedoya and Monteiro.

Score Prediction: The Union looked good going into the break, and while the same can’t be said for Atlanta, the Union have been known to somewhat struggle in away games. However, they are only without Martinez, meaning that the starting lineup that defeated Atlanta in these teams’ two previous meetings this year will be on the field. It’ll be an even matchup of skill and chances, but the Union will come away with a 2-1 win.

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