Atlanta United Giakoumakis is out as they search for three points on the road at the Citi Field against NYCFC

Now or never for the Five Stripes to grab three points on the road
Chicago Fire FC v Atlanta United FC
Chicago Fire FC v Atlanta United FC / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

New York City FC will host Atlanta United at the Citi Field in Major League Soccer action on Saturday. 

The Pigeons are off to a torrid start this season, taking all three points in only one of their last five games. Their last game ended 1-1 on the road to Inter Miami, while the Five Stripes came away with a solid 3-0 victory in a dominant display over the Chicago Fire at the Mercedes Benz Stadium.  

In a game where the Pigeons saw very little of the ball against MLS title favorites Inter Miami Nick Cushing gladly accepted a point. Irrespective of their poor form and languishing at the bottom of the table they created five big chances and should have gotten their names on the score board more than once. 

The goal last week was the first time during the 2024 campaign that they found the back of the net on the road, ending a four-match losing and goalless run as the visitors in this competition. 

New York FC’s atrocious display Infront of goal saw a return only one goal from their strikers all season hence they are joint leaders with the fewest goals in MLS this year (four). 

A win on Saturday would see them pulling away from 15th place New England and might surpass 13th place Orlando FC. The Boys in Blue have played six matches and have only collected four points making it their worst start to a campaign since the 2020 COVID which they had amassed a meagre three points.  

Playing at the Citi Field for the first time this season might bring some joy to the Boys in Blue merely because they won most of their games at that field last season including their last two home games. 

NYCFC have an impressive eight-match unbeaten run against the Five Stripes in all competitions, though Saturday will be the first time these two sides meet at Citi Field. 

Atlanta, however, has been very dismal on the road, with their only two losses of the season came from Toronto FC and Columbus Crewe on the road. They shook off their last road defeat with a sizzling display over Chicago Fire at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, winning for a third successive time at home this year. 

The Five Stripes are yet to score on the road, losing 1-0 and 2-0 while they have scored 9 goals and conceded only once at home. The travelling fans are expecting some good fortune this weekend as they are playing a team who has conceded three goals at home though they have only played twice at home 2024 from six games. 

A win for the Five Stripes would break their winless curse where, in the previous campaign, the Five Stripes were winless in six successive regular-season away fixtures since a 2-0 victory in Seattle against the Sounders last August. Both teams are no strangers to each other in their last 15 meetings NYCFC has 5 wins, 6 draws and 4 losses. Atlanta United’s 4 wins came at the Mercedes Benz Stadium, they have never beaten The Boys in Blue on the road in regular season. Their only road win over NYFC came in the MLS playoff tie in 2018. Nonetheless, something will have to give in Saturdays fixture because the Five Stripes have not lost three successive away fixtures in MLS play since April 2022.  

Team News 

In last week’s game NYCFC were without the services of forward Talles Magno and midfielder Maxi Morales due to Knee injuries. Both players are expected to return late April and May respectively.  Defender Birk Risa who has played 5 games and was rock solid did not play the last game either due to a thigh injury and is expected in late April. The Sebian Jovan Mijatovic who was transfer from FK Crena Zvezda was unavailable due to personal reasons.  

On the flip side of things New York FC opened the doors for Keaton Parks who mustered 1 assist in five games last Saturday and is expected to start over the weekend. Parkes assisted Alonso Martinez for his first goal of the season with a sublime pass last time out. Jamaican Tayvon Gray started for the first time in the 2024 domestic campaign and might be the pick of the bunch for The Boys in Blue on Saturday.  

Loanee Daniel Rios, who made the trip from Chivas, missed last week’s game against Chicago Fire and is expected to remain sidelined. Striker Giorgos Giakoumakis, who scored five goals in his first five games, the first to do so since Josef Martinez in the club’s history, will be missed this weekend by the Atlanta United faithful's as he joined Stian Gregerson on the injury bed with leg injuries. This will make way for Jamal Thiare who netted twice after replacing the Greek striker in the second half on his 31st birthday last weekend against Chicago Fire. The Portuguese Xande Silva is expected to missed Saturday’s game too. Thiago Almada, Caleb Wiley and Bartosz Slisz started for the Five Stripes last weekend, having missed their defeat versus Toronto because of the international break. if both teams turn up which is expected by the fans it will be a feisty encounter.  

Predicted Starting XI

New York City FC possible starting lineup: 
Freese; Gray, Martins, Tanasijevic; Ilenic, Parks, Sands, Wolf; Rodriguez, Martinez; Bakrar 

Atlanta United possible starting lineup: 
Guzan; Lennon, Cobb, Williams, Wiley; Slisz, Muyumba; Lobzhanidze, Almada, Mosquera; Thiare