Both Miami FC and Atlanta United are ambitious young clubs in the US Soccer scene, and the two sides will clash in the high profile Open Cup matchup.
The US Open Cup, Round of 16 is upon us again. Only three lower division teams survived round four, most notably the Miami FC. The leaders of the NASL went on the road to face a tough Orlando City side, but Miami had no problems making quick work of their MLS neighbors. They will look to have similar success this time around, as they host newcomers Atlanta United.
Atlanta has become known for their prolific attack, a beautiful flurry of transition passes with blistering pace, typically led by Miguel Almiron. However, following their hot start to their debut season, the grind of MLS play has caught up to the upstarts. They’ve won three of their last four, including an Open Cup win against the Charleston Battery, but they’ve also lost four of their last five road matches, while only earning a draw in the fifth. Atlanta will try to reverse that trend as they head down to the Magic City to face a formidable Miami FC.
Current Record: 9-3-1
Last Time Out: 2-1 win against the New York Cosmos.
How They Got Here: 3-1 win at Orlando City.
Player To Watch: Stéfano Pinho. The Brazilian winger has been on fire as of late, with five goals in his last three matches, including a hat-trick against Orlando. With Atlanta’s defense being suspect, look for Pinho to continue his tear.
Why They Win: Things have really been clicking for Miami. In the month of June, they outscored their league mates 8-1 in four matches, winning all four contests, along with the 3-1 win against a strong Orlando City squad. Their 11-2 goal difference comes from sound defending and a possession heavy attack, two things that Atlanta have struggled against this year. If Miami can dictate the style of play without giving up the counter, plan on their cup run to continue.
Why They Won’t: No result is out of reach for Atlanta United. Their free-flowing counter attack has proved lethal several times over in their inaugural season, and it only takes a matter of seconds following a mistake for their ruthless attack to find the back of the net. If Miami gets sloppy, their stout defense will likely be playing most of the match on their heels.
Current Record: 7-3-7
Last Time Out: 1-0 win at home against Colorado.
How They Got Here: 3-2 win against the Charleston Battery.
Player To Watch: Miguel Almiron. The midfield engine will have his hands full unlocking the Miami FC defense. With Miami’s attack likely to give Atlanta’s backline fits for 90 minutes, Almiron may have to work his magic in what could easily become a shootout.
Why They Win: When Atlanta’s attack find their rhythm, their movement is contagious, leading to regular goal opportunities. It doesn’t seem to matter who is involved in the attack, key passes routinely find players open with space. While Miami has dominated in NASL play, they have yet to face an attack anywhere near as potent as they will with United, including what they faced with Orlando City. If Atlanta can get things moving from early on, their relentless attack could put multiple goals past Miami before they even know what happened.
Why They Won’t: Atlanta has struggled on the road. Plain and simple. Miami should have a good crowd and atmosphere to match their motivation for another cup result. Combining those aspects with their recent run of form will only make life more difficult for Atlanta. Especially if United decide to run out a reserve-heavy side.
Prediction and How To Watch
This one should be fun, as the immovable force of the Miami FC defense will meet the unstoppable object from the Atlanta attack, all while the strong Miami offense will look to take advantage of a suspect United defense. Given Miami’s hosting of the match, along with their dominant play, the safe bet is on the home side.
Miami FC 2 – Atlanta United 1
When: June 28, 2017. 7:30 pm EST
Where: Riccardo Silva Stadium. Miami, FL