Updated: Jul 28
Atlanta is heading to the west coast for a midweek game against perpetual title contenders LAFC. Perhaps Atlanta's biggest test of the season comes exactly halfway through Atlanta's regular season and puts two high-scoring teams head to head. LAFC and Atlanta are the league's 4th and 3rd highest-scoring teams per game, respectively. This will, hopefully, mean that no matter what happens in the MLS table it will be an exciting game-and I am okay with that.
For once, Atlanta is the better-rested team as Los Angeles is coming off of a disappointing 3-1 loss to Leon in the CONCACAF Champions League Final. This quick turnaround for Los Angeles while Atlanta has had a week to prepare should mean that Atlanta will be better prepared and better rested. Unfortunately, Atlanta often isn't able to capitalize on advantages like these, though, and Los Angeles has good depth for an MLS team so even if Atlanta comes out guns blazing LA will still be hard to break down as only Nashville concedes fewer goals per 90.
This depth means that Atlanta's porous defense against New England won't cut it. If allowed, Denis Bouanga who is MLS's top scorer can definitely get on the score sheet. This is in addition to the always dangerous Carlos Vela who holds the record for most MLS goals in a single season. Then there are still more goal threats as Opoku, Biuk, and Tillman all have two goals. This means that Atlanta will have a lot to handle in Southern California.
Past Results and Stats
In the past, the series favors Atlanta with a 2-0-1 record. This includes a 1-0 win in the most recent game. This isn't very representative of the upcoming game, though, as that was a home game for Atlanta almost two years ago. Another unfortunate statistic for Atlanta's chances is that they have not won any of their last 7 away games. Los Angeles hasn't scored in their past two home games, though.
The only change we should see between last week and Wednesday is Wolff replacing a very poor Etienne Jr.
Los Angeles's lineup is far more up in the air. Following a rough home defeat in the Concacaf Champions League, Steve Cherundolo might need to give his players some rest before another quick turnaround to play at Houston on Saturday which he could do by benching players or sub some players off around halftime. In addition, a couple of players have picked up knocks. These include both Chiellini and Long which means Palencia will start at center back. In addition, Maxime Crepeau, Tony Leone, and Kellyn Acosta will be missing the game through injury.
Taking a struggling defense to an angry LAFC isn't going to fair well even if they are tired and are resting some players. The game will see a Bouanga brace coming on either side of a Giakoumakis goal. Then Tillman will score before a late Almada consolation goal.
Final Score: Los Angeles FC 3-2 Atlanta United