After an excellent first season in the MLS, Atlanta will have been looking to kick on this season. As they sit top of the Eastern Conference, kick on is exactly what they’ve done, though Gerardo Martino’s men won’t exactly carry forward the best feeling after they tasted defeat last time out. It wasn’t in the league, but the hosts will be disappointed to have gone out of the cup in the quarter-finals. A return to the sphere that they’ve dominated so far this campaign should give them the required boost, though beating a more than useful Portland team won’t be easy.
In their own conference, Portland haven’t exactly dominated, but they’re loitering towards the head of affairs, while they approach this match off the back of a good win last time out. What’s more, the visitors, who’re managed by Giovanni Savarese, are now unbeaten in ten matches, six of which they’ve won. Such form bodes well, especially since facing Atlanta on the road is no simple task.
Considering that they are the team currently leading the way in the Eastern Conference, Atlanta don’t exactly come into this fixture having been in imperious form on their own patch. The hosts have lost two of their last three on home soil, while their defensive record at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is slightly worrying. Having conceded six goals in their last three in front of their own fans, Martino’s men could easily find it tough to prevent a useful Portland side from flexing their attacking muscles on Sunday evening.
At the other end of the pitch, Atlanta have done well. The hosts arrive at this juncture having scored an impressive 22 goals on home soil this season. In fact, none of the other 22 MLS teams have scored more goals on home soil during the current campaign. In addition, Atlanta come here having scored three in their most recent home match, though defensive frailties remain, as they’ve conceded in each of their last five at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Like the hosts, Portland have proven themselves to be both offensively astute, but defensively weak on the road. With just one clean sheet in seven on their travels this season, Sunday’s visitors have shown something of a soft under-belly when operating away from the comforts of home during the current campaign. However, they have at least scored goals, notching in each of their last five travelling matches. Having scored three away at Colorado during their last away outing, Savarese’s men ought to fancy their chances of making attacking headway in this fixture.
With defensive issues clear, both teams are fancied to profit offensively on Sunday. Both are likely to see this as a winnable game, so an open encounter is expected. Punters can profit by backing ‘Over 2.5 Goals & Both Teams to Score’, a bet which has landed in four of Atlanta’s last five at home, as well as in three of Portland’s last five on the road.
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With Atlanta still being a new club, they’ve only faced Portland Timbers once previously. Back in 2017, the pair drew 1-1 at Providence Park.
The hosts are expected to be without both Greg Garza and Chris McCann, both of whom are out injured at present. Aside from that, Atlanta will be at full strength.
Portland have a few concerns ahead of this match. Both Liam Ridgewell and Roy Miller are touch and go in terms of being ready to play, while Fanendo Adi is also a doubt. David Guzman and Andy Polo are both away at the World Cup.