ExLink - 05/09/18 - ATLvSKC

Atlanta United FC vs. Sporting Kansas City
2018 MLS Regular Season – Week 11
Mercedes-Benz Stadium - Atlanta
May 9 - 7:30 pm ET

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It is a tasty tangle between division leaders, and a possible MLS Cup preview, as Atlanta United host Sporting Kansas City Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Five Stripes stretched their unbeaten streak to eight straight games following a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday, while Sporting Kansas City rebounded after their stretch of seven games without defeat was snapped, to beat the Colorado Rapids, 1-0.

Atlanta United

"Tata" Martino made one change to his starting XI from the team that defeated the Montreal Impact, 4-1, a week prior, bringing on Franco Escobar for Chris McCann in his three-man backline.

Ezequiel Barco scored his first MLS goal to open the scoring in the 53rd minute with Josef Martinez striking four minutes later for his league-leading seventh goal of the season before Kevin Ellis pulled the Fire back a goal in the 61st minute.

Atlanta (7-1-1) moved atop the Supporters' Shield table with 22 points, two points clear of both New York City FC and Sporting Kansas City.

“It's a very long season. We realize we are in a good moment and what we have to do now is just prolong it,” Martino said after the match. “We want to be a consistent team, as we know in this league there are going to be games where we have to suffer, and tonight it was difficult in the second half, they put in a lot of balls into the box that we had to defend. We know we have a lot more to go."

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: D - Chris McCann, D - Leandro Gonzalez Pirez
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D - Jose Hernandez (quad strain), GK - Mitch Hildebrandt (left knee sprain), GK - Alec Kann (left knee); QUESTIONABLE: D - Chris McCann (hamstring)

Projected Starting XI
(3-4-1-2, right to left)
GK: Brad Guzan — Franco Escobar, Michael Parkhurst, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez — Julian Gressel, Darlington Nagbe, Jeff Larentowicz, Greg Garza — Miguel Almiron — Ezequiel Barco, Josef Martinez

  • Notes: Atlanta (22.3) and Sporting KC (21.6) rank first and second, respectively, in expected goals this season. No other team is averaging more than 19.2 ... Atlanta have scored multiple goals in their last 13 home games dating back to last season (9W-1L-3D), outscoring visitors 44-13 over that span ... Miguel Almiron has eight goals+assists in his last five games for the Five Stripes, which accounts for more than half of Atlanta’s 15 goals in this stretch.

Sporting Kansas City

Peter Vermes made two changes to his starting XI from the team that fell to New England, 1-0, the previous week, bringing on Cristian Lobato at left back, while Jimmy Medranda replaced Yohan Croizet in the three-man midfield.

Daniel Salloi was especially active in the attacking third with eight shots — three on frame — and the game’s lone goal in the 16th minute, his second of the season as SKC improved to 6-2-2.

It was the 150th career victory for Peter Vermes, who on Monday signed a contact extension through 2023.

“I think that we’re evolving, and I also think that we’re getting challenged early on in the season with different tactical packages that teams are putting together,” Vermes said. “It’s good because it’s making us see things that, as a season progresses, we’ll be even more ready for.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: GK - Adrian Zendejas (head injury), M - Felipe Gutierrez (sports hernia surgery); QUESTIONABLE - M - Gerso Fernandes (thigh contusion)

Projected Starting XI
(4-3-3, right to left)
GK: Tim Melia — Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler, Cristian Lobato — Roger Espinoza, Ilie Sanchez, Jimmy Medranda — Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton, Daniel Salloi

  • Notes: Sporting have conceded one or fewer goals in their last two road games. They had conceded at least two goals in each of their prior four road games dating back to last season ... SKC are averaging 1.3 goals per game in the four games Felipe Gutierrez has missed so far this season, while they averaged 2.7 in the six games in which he has appeared.

All-Time Series

  • This is the second all-time meeting between Atlanta United and Sporting Kansas City. The teams played to a 1-1 draw at Children’s Mercy Park on Aug. 6, 2017.


Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referees: Joe Fletcher, Frank Anderson
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic