The Five Stripes are back at it in the Benz.
Atlanta United will hope to bounce back as they face Real Salt Lake on Wednesday in Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Real Salt Lake is currently 3rd in the Western Conference with a record of 8-6-5 and 30 points in 19 games. The team has 25.8 total expected goals and 27.5 expected goals allowed this season (-1.9 differential). The main attacking threats Salt Lake brings are Jefferson Savarino (3 goals, 1 assist), Pablo Ruiz (1 goal, 4 assists), Justin Meram (3 goals, 3 assists), and Maikel Chang (1 goal, 4 assists).
Real Salt Lake has only won two of its 10 road games this season, so their away record isn't as good as Austin's who wiped the floor of the Benz with Atlanta last Saturday. There is bad news, however, because Luiz Araújo picked up a yellow card in the last game and will be suspended for Wednesday's match.
Atlanta United Predicted XI
Real Salt Lake Predicted XI
How does Atlanta win?
In the post-match presser after the Austin FC game, Pineda talked about bringing more "passion and fight" and getting back to the "fundamentals of soccer". Josef's remarks have also left quite the impact on fans and undoubtedly on the players. We can talk tactics all day long, but at the end of the day, the players need to give their all on the field.
Returning to a back three with Purata to help facilitate communication on defense can help prevent Atlanta from conceding. In the minutes he played, Purata showed some encouraging signs in both his pace and defensive judgment, and having a 6'2 defender certainly helps win aerial duels.
The attack is definitely going to struggle without Luiz Araújo, but if the young fullbacks can continue making runs forward and the striker pairing of Cisneros and Martínez can get service, the goals will come.