Pineda’s old team comes to town
Atlanta United’s two-game road trip went about as well as expected, with the good guys scoring zero goals and picking up just a solitary point. The good news is that Atlanta wasn’t blown out in either outing and remains in contention for the playoffs thanks to some luck around the league. The bad news, however, is that Gonzalo Pineda’s side has a grueling August ahead of it, starting with a visit from the Seattle Sounders.
Seattle became the first MLS team ever to hoist the CONCACAF Champions League in April, defeating Mexican side Pumas UNAM 5-2 on aggregate in the final. That makes 2022 a success for the Rave Green no matter what, even despite mediocre league form. The Sounders sit 6th in the Western Conference on 32 points and have lost four of its last six. Along with the expected drop-off from going on a CCL run, Seattle has also had to deal with a number of major injuries to Joao Paulo (out for the season), Obed Vargas, and Raul Ruidiaz (who could be back in time for Atlanta). Nonetheless, Seattle is still a very formidable opponent and far from out of the race in the West. Jordan Morris (6g, 1a), Nicolas Lodeiro (5g, 4a), and Ruidiaz (5g) form a lethal attacking trio when they’re all fit and on form. That hasn’t happened nearly enough, however, and Seattle has the 10th-best attack in the West.
Despite signs of a potential awakening against RSL and Orlando, Atlanta has gone back to treading water at best of late and remains 12th in the East. Its haul of 25 points is just four short of 7th placed Cincinnati but the Five Stripes will need to leapfrog 5 teams and stay ahead of a new-look Toronto FC to make the postseason. Atlanta’s destiny is still in its own hands, but only barely; the Five Stripes have a number of games against teams directly above it over the next few weeks, starting with Cincinnati and Columbus in two weeks’ time. Predicted Starting XIs
McBlunder’s Prediction: Atlanta United 1-1 Seattle Sounders
The absence of George Campbell will push Pineda into switching into a back four but that won’t be enough to open Atlanta’s attacking floodgates. A Josef Martinez penalty will be the sole goal for the good guys while Seattle answers back via Jordan Morris.