The Union fly down to Atlanta to take on United FC in the first match of the Union's final double game week of the season. Here are just a few storylines fans should look for when the teams take the field Wednesday evening.
Atlanta United are in a brutal stretch of the season, where from September 10 to October 3, the team plays two matches a week. So far, Atlanta is 4-0-1, but it hasn't been all positive. Most recently, in the team's match against Montreal Impact, Atlanta's No. 10 Miguel Almiron was forced to leave the match in the 17th minute with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. The club confirmed the injury Monday, saying Almiron will be out for at least three weeks. Almiron has been a key part of Atlanta's attack, leading the team with 13 assists and also chipping in nine goals, third most on the team. Having that much production out is tough for any team, and it will be interesting to see who fills Almiron's role, both at the No. 10 and on the scoresheet. And with Atlanta playing so many matches and already down some players, this could be a big opportunity for the Union.
Battle of the Rookies
With Miguel Almiron being out, it gives a chance for Julian Gressel to start for Atlanta, meaning fans should get a full 90 minutes to take a look at MLS's most heated Rookie of the Year battle between he and Jack Elliott. When the two teams played earlier this season, Elliott played the full 90 minutes, including 38 minutes while the Union were down to 10 men. Meanwhile, Gressel came off the bench in the 59th minute, but didn't make too much of an impact on the match. With a full 90 minutes, there will be plenty of chances to see individual battles between the two, and whoever has the better game has a good chance at getting a leg up on the other in the Rookie of the Year voting.
Another player Elliott and the rest of the Union will have to key in on is Josef Martinez, Atlanta's leading scorer. Martinez has potted 17 goals this season, including eight in his last five matches. However, he was held off the scoresheet against the Union in their first meeting. Of his 17 goals, Martinez has scored 14 of them at home, where he is at his most dangerous. Elliott and the rest of the defense will primarily be tasked with keeping Martinez from finding the back of the net, which will be a tough task, but one they already succeeded in. If the Union can keep him from scoring, the team will have a good chance to head back to Philadelphia with some points.