Minnesota United FC vs. Atlanta United FC | 2017 MLS Match Preview

Minnesota United - Christian Ramirez - celebrate first MLS goal vs. Portland

Minnesota United FC vs. Atlanta United FC
2017 MLS Regular Season
TCF Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, MN
Sunday, March 12 – 5:00 pm ET

Come Sunday evening, at least one of the two new MLS expansion sides will have picked up its first points.

Minnesota United FC will host Atlanta United FC in the teams’ first and only meeting in 2017, with both sides looking to rebound from disappointing opening day losses that bore some similarities despite the very distinct scorelines. The game will also mark Minnesota's home debut in MLS play, with all the celebration and pageantry that comes with such an occasion.

Atlanta kept things closer on the scoreboard in their 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls and actually led their visitors for much of the game but, like Minnesota in their 5-1 loss at Portland, were undone by late goals. Now, both teams will look to put that disappointment behind them and start building a platform for sustained success in a new league.

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Minnesota United FC

Last Friday’s heavy loss to Portland was a bucket of cold water to the face after months of unabated expansion euphoria. But there are 33 games remaining on the schedule, and the Loons can quickly erase the bad taste of their season-opening defeat with a strong performance on Sunday.

That task will be made easier by the fact that defensive help is on the way in the form of new Swiss signing Jerome Thiesson. Head coach Adrian Heath confirmed on Tuesday that the right back would be arriving with the team Wednesday, and that he was fit and could feature in Sunday’s game. He would most likely slot in for Jermaine Taylor.

  • Suspended: None
  • Int’l Duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT - Bernardo Añor (hamstring injury)

Projected Starting XI (4-1-4-1): John Alvbage – Jerome Thiesson, Vadim Demidov, Francisco Calvo, Justin Davis – Collen Warner – Kevin Molino, Mohamed Saeid, Rasmus Schuller, Bashkim Kadrii – Johan Venegas

Notes: Minnesota’s five goals conceded in their first ever MLS game is the most of any of the nine most recent expansion franchises (dating back to Seattle). Only one other team conceded more than two.

Atlanta United FC

Atlanta head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino already knows he will have to field a different starting XI from his opening weekend group, owing to the suspension of Carlos Carmona for a late red card against the Red Bulls. Luckily for Martino, the center of midfield is one place where Atlanta do have plenty of depth – Kevin Kratz, Jeff Larentowicz and Chris McCann could all fill in for Carmona alongside rookie Julian Gressel, a surprise starter in Sunday's opener.

We’re less likely to see much variation in Martino’s all-South American front four, which offered up some tantalizing moments last Sunday. Chief among those was Yamil Asad’s first goal in franchise history, while Venezuelan international Josef Martinez also went close in the first half, only to be denied at point-blank range.

  • Suspended: Carlos Carmona (red card)
  • Int’l Duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT - Zach Loyd (groin injury)

Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Alec Kann – Tyrone Mears, Michael Parkhurst, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Greg Garza – Jeff Larentowicz, Julian Gressel – Hector Villalba, Miguel Almiron, Yamil Asad – Josef Martinez

Notes: Only four teams took more shots than Atlanta’s 14 on the opening weekend of the season.

All-Time Series

This is the first meeting between these two teams.


Referee: Ismail Elfath
Assistant Referees: Ian Anderson, Corey Parker
Fourth Official: Fotis Bazakos