ExLink - 04/28/18 - ATLvMTL

Atlanta United vs. Montreal Impact | 2018 MLS Match Preview

Atlanta United vs. Montreal Impact
2018 MLS Regular Season - Week 9
Mercedes-Benz Stadium - Atlanta
April 28 - 1 pm ET

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That blowout loss to the Houston Dynamo in Week 1 fading in the rearview mirror, Atlanta United are white-hot and ride a six-match unbeaten streak — with five wins — into a Week 9 tussle with a Montreal Impact side reeling off three consecutive losses.

Atlanta completed the Los Angeles sweep Saturday night, 7-0 on aggregate, defeating the LA Galaxy 2-0 at StubHub Center, while the Impact’s opener at Stade Saputo was a dud, with 10-man Montreal falling to LAFC, 5-3.

There is a distinct possibility a penalty kick is given in this match. Montreal have conceded five penalties this season, the most in the league. Atlanta have drawn six penalties the most in the league, per Opta.

Atlanta United

Three minutes after clanging a penalty shot off the post, Josef Martinez pounced on a rebound of a Julian Gressel shot off the crossbar to tap in his league-leading sixth goal of the season. Miguel Almiron, who was named to the MLS Team of the Week presented by Audi for Week 8, added a second-half stoppage time penalty kick to cap a comprehensive road win for surging Atlanta United (5-1-1).

Tata Martino made one change to his starting XI with Ezequiel Barco making his first start after his long-awaited debut in a 2-2 draw with NYCFC the previous week.

“I thought he played very well,” Martino said of Barco. “He was very precise, very good with his movements. I thought he was combining well with Miguel and Josef, and we just had to take him off because I thought he was looking tired.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Michael Parkhurst said the performance was “near perfect.”

“Everybody dug in and did their job,” he said. “We blocked crosses, we defended in the box. Guy up top put pressure on the ball when we needed it. It was just a very, very good performance.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: D - Chris McCann
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT:  D - Jose Hernandez (quad strain), GK - Mitch Hildebrandt (left knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: F - Hector Villalba (lower body)

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

  • Notes: Darlington Nagbe has completed 92.2 percent of his passes into the final third, the best rate of any MLS player who has attempted 40 such passes. … The Five Stripes are unbeaten in their last six matches in MLS play, outscoring opponents 17-4 in that time. This is two short of the franchise record of eight, set from Aug. 27-Oct. 1, 2017.

Montreal Impact    

It was a perfect start for Montreal (2-5-0) with Ignacio Piatti scoring a brace inside the opening 20 minutes and adding a third two minutes from halftime as the Impact went into halftime with a 3-1 lead, much to the delight of the 20,302 fans at Stade Saputo. For his effort, Piatti was named to the MLS Team of the Week presented by Audi for Week 8.

But then Montreal, who were reduced to 10 men when Victor Cabrera was sent off for denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity in the 31st minute, conceded four times in the final 45 minutes in a stunning reversal. It was the second time in the last three weeks the Impact were reduced to 10 men in the first half.

“I’m not happy at all with the way that we managed the second half because when you have the chance to lead 3-1 at halftime, even if you are playing 10 men, you should be more determined to protect your goal and some time to attack,” Montreal coach Remi Garde said after the match. “There are not too many tactic situations on this occasion. It’s more about your pride, the fight you want to put in the game to win. I think in the second half I didn’t see a team that wanted to preserve the score and maybe to score one more.”

The biggest point of contention after the match was set-piece defending, with two goals coming directly off corner kicks and one from the penalty spot.

“When you’re down a man, the last thing you want is to give up goals on set pieces and corners,” defender Daniel Lovitz said. “To give two in pretty quick succession is just the opposite of what we were trying to do and really set a negative platform for the half, unfortunately.”

  • Suspended: D - Victor Cabrera
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D - Zakaria Diallo (ruptured Achilles tendon), D - Kyle Fisher (tibia), M - Marco Donadel (gluteal muscle) M - David Choinere (ankle surgery); QUESTIONABLE: F - Matteo Mancosu (calf), D - Rod Fanni (thigh)

Projected Starting XI
(5-3-2, right to left)
GK: Evan Bush — Chris Duvall, Michael Petrasso, Rudy Camacho, Jukka Raitala, Daniel Lovitz — Alejandro Silva, Samuel Piette, Saphir Taider — Jeisson Vargas, Ignacio Piatti

  • Notes: Montreal are 4W-13L-5D on the road in league play since the start of last season. Their 13 losses are tied for the sixth most in that time. … This will be the third meeting in MLS play between the two clubs, with the home team winning each of the first two games.

All-Time Series

  • Overall: Atlanta United 1 win, 3 goals … Montreal Impact 1 win, 2 goals … 0 ties
  • At Atlanta: Atlanta United 1 win, 2 goals … Montreal Impact 0 wins, 0 goals … 0 ties
  • Last meeting at Atlanta: Atlanta United 2, Montreal Impact 0 (Sept. 24, 2017)


Referee: Chico Grajeda
Assistant Referees: Nick Uranga, Jason White
4th Official: Christopher Penso
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez