ExLink - 10/21/18 - ATLvCHI

Atlanta United vs. Chicago Fire | 2018 MLS Match Preview

Atlanta United vs. Chicago Fire
2018 MLS Regular Season — Week 34

Mercedes-Benz Stadium — Atlanta
October 21 — 3 pm ET

Atlanta United look to take a step closer to the Supporters’ Shield when they host the Chicago Fire at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sunday.

The Five Stripes, who have a one-point lead over the New York Red Bulls with two games to play, are coming off a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution, while the Fire are looking to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat at D.C. United.

This is the second meeting this season, with Atlanta winning 2-1 at Toyota Park on May 5. Ezequiel Barco and Josef Martinez scored four minutes apart early in the second half of that game, before Kevin Ellis pulled the Fire back a goal just past the hour mark.

Atlanta United

The good news for Atlanta (20-6-6) was a win over the Revs maintained a slim lead in the Supporters’ Shield race. The bad news is they lost influential midfielder Miguel Almiron for the remainder of the regular season with a hamstring injury.

Sixteen-year-old Homegrown George Bello opened the scoring on 16 minutes and Julian Gressel tacked on an insurance goal in the 52nd minute before Juan Agudelo netted a cosmetic stoppage-time goal for the Revs.

“Sometimes with teams, the guys that are out there just have to play stronger as a team,” Tata Martino said. “You saw it with the Red Bulls. They were missing two of their most important players in (Tyler) Adams and (Bradley) Wright-Phillips. So we know that if Miguel is out, the guys around him are going to have to step up. Maybe they aren’t as talented as he is, but they will have to do it with a lot of hard work and sacrifice.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: M - Jeff Larentowicz, D - Michael Parkhurst
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D - Sal Zizzo (right knee injury), D - Mikey Ambrose (right knee surgery),  M - Miguel Almiron (left hamstring injury), Hector Villalba (leg)

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

Chicago Fire

Chicago (8-17-7) put pressure on D.C. United, jumping out to a lead before ultimately succumbing at Audi Field on Oct. 7.

Raheem Edwards put the visitors in front on 51 minutes before Wayne Rooney leveled 11 minutes later and scored the winner from the penalty spot in the 81st minute. The Fire went to Mercedes-Benz Stadium and beat Atlanta in the U.S. Open Cup this year, but Veljko Paunovic knows Sunday’s match is a different animal.

“We definitely know we have to outperform a strong rival and play the best we can,” he said. “We will approach the same this game as we did the last few games since we were out of the playoffs and we will definitely be a good opponent, tough.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: D - Jorge Corrales, D - Johan Kappelhof, D - Bastian Schweinsteiger, M - Dax McCarty
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT:  F - Luis Solignac (right adductor injury), D - Christian Dean (right hamstring injury); QUESTIONABLE: D - Matt Polster (MCL surgery), D - Matt Polster (MCL surgery),

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Richard Sanchez — Jorge Corrales, Johan Kappelhof, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Brandon Vincent — Dax McCarty, Brandt Bronico — Aleksandar Katai, Djordje Mihailovic, Raheem Edwards — Nemanja Nikolic

All-Time Series


Referee: Drew Fischer
Assistant Referees: Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho, Cameron Blanchard
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
VAR: Allen Chapman