ATLPreview

The Verde & Black are rolling. The Club is unbeaten in its last four matches and has won three consecutive away games, a run which sees Austin sit second in the MLS Supporters’ Shield standings. Next up is the finale of a three-match road swing: a trip east to take on Atlanta United FC on Saturday night (kickoff at 6:00 p.m. CT/7:00 p.m. ET).

It will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams, and ATXFC will look to continue its excellent away form against Eastern Conference opponents this season - the Verde & Black are 3-0-0 in such matches.

Austin FC Outlook

Austin is currently tied for the league’s best road record, with six wins and 19 points accrued from ten away games. After this weekend’s match against Atlanta, nine of ATXFC’s final 15 matches are at home, and with 34 points already on the board, the team is looking to set itself up well for playoff qualification.

The Club has shown a remarkable ability to overcome multi-goal deficits: in 4 of 5 matches in which Austin FC trailed by two goals in 2022, it came back to earn points, with two wins and two draws. The latest such comeback, on Monday against Colorado, was spurred on by MLS Team of the Week performances from Jon Gallagher and Sebastián Driussi.

Gallagher became the first defender in Club history to record a multi-assist performance, setting up Ethan Finlay and Driussi for first-half goals. Add that to his game-winning assist to Maxi Urruti in Austin’s 1-0 win over CF Montréal in June, and it’s been an excellent few weeks for the Irish left back. This Saturday will see Gallagher return to his former club in Atlanta, for whom he made 16 appearances during the 2020 season.

Driussi continues to produce at an MVP level, bagging his 10th goal of the season against Colorado. That total ties him for the MLS Golden Boot lead, and makes him the first Austin FC player to reach double-digit goals in a season. The team is unbeaten (8-3-0) in the last 11 matches in which the Argentine Designated Player has scored.

Atlanta United FC Outlook

Atlanta sits in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and has only one win in its last seven matches, but don’t let that fool you - United are not an easy opponent, especially at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. With one of the few home atmospheres in MLS that rivals Q2 Stadium, the Five Stripes have gained points from 7 of 8 home matches in 2022.

Though Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda’s side is dealing with a number of injuries to key players - such as U.S. international center back Miles Robinson - three of its most dangerous attacking threats are fit and firing in Josef Martínez, Thiago Almada, and Dom Dwyer. Martínez and Dwyer are proven MLS goal-scorers with 179 career tallies between them, while Almada - a new arrival ahead of this season - has three goals and four assists through 12 appearances.

As a club, Atlanta is used to winning, with an MLS Cup, a U.S. Open Cup, and a Campeones Cup in its trophy cabinet during its short history. Austin’s recipe for success on Saturday will involve overcoming the difficult road environment, adjusting to playing on turf, keeping Atlanta’s attackers quiet, and pressuring an injury-depleted backline. If the team can do that, it could take the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race with a victory plus an LAFC loss Friday night.

Probable Atlanta United FC Lineup

(4-2-3-1, R-L) - GK: Rocco Rios Novo; Aiden McFadden, Alan Franco, George Campbell, Caleb Wiley; Amar Sejdic, Matheus Rossetto; Luiz Araujo, Thiago Almada, Marcelino Moreno; Josef Martínez