Atlanta United on FS1 - Hector Villalba thumbs up
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Atlanta United FC vs. DC United | 2017 MLS Match Preview

Atlanta United FC vs. D.C. United
2017 MLS Regular Season - Week 9
Bobby Dodd Stadium – Atlanta, Ga.
Sunday, April 30 – 3 pm ET
WATCH: FS1, FOX Deportes in USA; MLS LIVE in Canada

They share the same colors and they both carry the name "United," but the similarities end there between Atlanta United FC and D.C. United as they get set for the first-ever match in what many anticipate will become a budding East Coast rivalry. Atlanta will host the opening meeting, selling out their third straight home match with over 45,000 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

While D.C. are an MLS original club, four-time MLS Cup champions and a squad laden with MLS experience, Atlanta United are an expansion side that has taken the league by storm on its way to scoring the second most goals in MLS (17) in just seven matches. Even D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen admitted that Atlanta "isn't a fluke team," praising their roster makeup with "experienced defenders, and special attacking pieces."

D.C., who are wrapping up a three-game road stretch before hosting three straight at RFK Stadium, can catch Atlanta in the Eastern Conference standings with a victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium. To do that, D.C. right back Sean Franklin says they'll look to "make it hard for [Atlanta] to play against us" in order to counteract the explosive Atlanta attack led by South American trio Miguel Almiron (Paraguay) and Argentines Yamil Asad and Hector "Tito" Villalba

"The way we build our team, it’s deep," Olsen told about his D.C. side. "We don’t have the $6 million players, but we got a lot of really good players that are capable of getting results in this league.”

Atlanta United FC

Atlanta United are playing in only their third home match of the year, with their last one coming back on March 18. While they've been nimble on the road with their quick transition game, arguably the best in all of MLS, Atlanta haven't had many stretches in which they've had to take the game to the opposition. Outside of the Chicago Fire going down to 10 men at Bobby Dodd in Week 3, a defensively-minded D.C. side will represent the toughest test of Atlanta's ability to break down an opponent.

  • Suspended: None
  • Int'l Duty: FW Andrew Carleton (US U-17s), MF Chris Goslin (US U-17s)
  • Injury Report: OUT – FW Josef Martinez (quadriceps), FW Jacob Peterson (right lower leg injury), DF Zach Loyd (groin)

Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, left to right): Alec Kann – Greg Garza, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst, Tyrone Mears – Carlos Carmona, Jeff Larentowicz – Yamil Asad, Miguel Almiron, Hector Villalba – Kenwyne Jones

Notes: Left back Greg Garza and midfielder Jeff Larentowicz are carrying minor injuries entering Sunday's match ... With D.C. United projected to sit back, Atlanta manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino might be expected to go with target man Kenwyne Jones to occupy D.C.'s center back duo and help hold up balls for the quick and crafty Atlanta attackers ... Starting center forward Josef Martinez is still two weeks away from returning ... Rookie midfielder Julian Gressel, who started the first six matches before coming off the bench in Week 8, could provide good energy off the bench in case things stall for Atlanta.

D.C. United

Head coach Ben Olsen admitted his roster is "a little thin" given the club's long injury list, but D.C. may be getting some key elements back in time for the trip to Atlanta with starting forward Patrick Mullins, starting left back Taylor Kemp and playmaker Luciano Acosta all reportedly back in training this week. 

  • Suspended: None
  • Int'l Duty: DF/MF Chris Durkin (US U-17s)
  • On Loan: FW Alhaji Kamara (USL / Richmond Kickers)
  • Injury Report: OUT – DF Steve Birnbaum (concussion), MF Patrick Nyarko (hamstring injury), DF/MF Nick DeLeon (groin/lower abdominal strain), GK Eric Klenofsky (left knee meniscus), MF Rob Vincent (left knee meniscus); PROBABLE: FW Sebastien Le Toux (elbow injury), FW Patrick Mullins (hamstring injury)

Projected Starting XI (4-1-4-1, left to right): Bill Hamid – Taylor Kemp, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare, Sean Franklin – Marcelo Sarvas – Lamar Neagle, Jared Jeffrey, Ian Harkes, Lloyd Sam – Patrick Mullins

Notes: Acosta came off the bench to play 13 minutes against New England last Saturday, but it remains to be seen if Olsen lines him up given that D.C. could assume a more conservative approach on the road against one of the best attacking teams in MLS.

All-Time Series

First of three meetings in 2017 (Wed., June 21 and Wed., Aug. 23, both in DC)


Referee: Jair Marrufo
Assistant Referees: Jonathan Johnson (bench side), Kyle Atkins (far side)
Fourth Official: Mark Kadlecik