Atlanta United face Chicago Fire in their last home match of the season. See who to watch for as Atlanta look to keep their Supporters’ Shield lead.
Atlanta United hold a one-point lead over the New York Red Bulls in the race for the Supporters’ Shield. If Atlanta win against the Chicago Fire on Sunday and New York loses on the road to Philadelphia, Atlanta can finish this match with their first trophy in club history.
Sunday’s match is going to be a big one. Mercedes Benz Stadium will be open to full capacity, meaning there will most likely be 70,000-plus people in attendance. Atlanta will look to win their final home game of the season, keep their Supporters Shield lead, and with any luck, claim the Shield by the end of the match. It’s going to be a party at the Benz if all goes well.
Chicago will not lay down easily though. Despite being out of the playoffs, Atlanta should expect a fight from the Fire. Since an extended break that saw the team travel to Germany for their star midfielder, Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Fire have been inconsistent at best. In the five games since that break, Chicago is 2-2-1. That includes a strong win against LAFC, but a disappointing loss to DC United.
It will be a tough match for two Eastern conference foes. See who to watch.
5. Josef Martinez
The league’s leading goal-scorer is still in the midst of a “cold streak.” In his brief MLS career, Josef Martinez is averaging a goal per start, which is an astonishing statistic. In his last six starts, however, he only has two goals to show for it.
Don’t let that stat fool you as the team is doing just fine. Atlanta won five of those six games, despite having little production from their top scorer. A Martinez goal or two or three would go a long way in making the fans feel more comfortable, especially while the team fights to earn its first trophy.
This match against Chicago is the perfect opportunity for Martinez to get back on the scoresheet. In three matches against Chicago, Martinez has three goals (sensing a theme here?). At least one goal on Sunday would keep his goal-per-start statistic alive, while a hat-trick would bring him back up to a goal per appearance for the 2018 season.
Although it is not necessary for Martinez to score, his goals have gone a long way this season in keeping Atlanta front runners in the league. It is interesting that his numbers are down in the last handful of matches and hopefully this weekend can serve as the beginning of a nice hot streak as the team approaches the playoffs.