Atlanta United FC is on top of the Eastern Conference for many reasons, but a big factor has been their sparkling road form. Only five teams in Major League Soccer accumulated five or more road wins last season, and Atlanta has hit that number at the halfway point of 2018. Their 17 points on the road leads the league (the Union’s last opponent, LAFC, is second with 15 points), and their success is borne from clinical counterattacking. Even though Atlanta takes the fifth fewest shots per match on the road (9.8), they have the sixth highest Expected Goals per match according to American Soccer Analysis.
The Five Stripes’ counterattack is so effective because the league’s sharpest point is at its tip. Every little bit of Josef Martinez’s 5’6” frame is dedicated toward the singular aim of scoring goals on the soccer pitch. He has 15 goals on the season and has bagged one in six straight away matches. At his current pace, Martinez will surpass Ola Kamara’s majestic 2016 season and set the record for highest Expected Goals per game since the Union entered the league. For comparison, Robbie Keane never had a single season as good as the one Martine had in 2017, and he’s been even more dangerous through the first half of this year.
Miguel Almiron and Ezequiel Barco may have cost more money, but Atlanta’s Venezuelan striker is the secret sauce that has garnered them over two points per match on the road in 2018.