Atlanta United look to continue their seven-game unbeaten streak as they travel to Audi Field to take on D.C. United. See which five key players are must-watch.
Atlanta United and D.C. United are currently some of the hottest teams in the league. Atlanta are riding a seven-game unbeaten streak that includes back to back wins, while D.C. are 4-2-1 in their last seven games. D.C. is coming off two straight losses, but they are strong in their new home confines and will look to defeat Atlanta as they continue their quest for the playoffs.
These teams have met five times already, with three D.C. wins and two Atlanta wins. All of D.C.’s wins came last season while all of Atlanta’s wins came this season. Atlanta dominated D.C. in the last match by a score of 3-1. That score included three Josef Martinez goals, which was his sixth career hat trick, setting a new MLS record in the process.
Although Atlanta handled D.C. easily in the first two matches this season, this third and final game should have a different feel. D.C. United is hitting its stride, especially at home. Their newest addition, Wayne Rooney, is lifting the team to a new level of success, meaning Atlanta will have a tough task on the road.
Here are five players to watch for on Sunday night.
5. Josef Martinez
Can the MLS goal-scoring king get yet another goal on Sunday? In two games this year, Josef Martinez has tormented D.C. with four goals, including a hat-trick in the last one. This will be the first time Atlanta has traveled to D.C. this season, so it will be interesting to see how the Five Stripes play. Of course, the best indication of how the team is playing is whether or not Martinez is scoring.
The Venezuelan international is going for another record this weekend: most consecutive games with a goal scored. He is currently on a nine-game streak, tied with last year’s MVP winner, Diego Valeri. In those last nine games, Atlanta is 6-1-2, including a current seven-game unbeaten streak. When Josef scores, the team is poised for three points.
All eyes will be on D.C.’s defense and whether or not they can stop Martinez. Toronto did a good job for the better part of 53 minutes, but Martinez broke through with a brace. Columbus was fortunate to hold Martinez off for 31 minutes, but couldn’t stop his teammates from scoring. Orlando held Martinez scoreless for 74 minutes until he broke through with his record-breaking 28th goal of the season.
The chances of another Martinez goal are high. D.C. will have to do everything in their power to stop that from happening.