An MLS Friday night doubleheader concludes with a game between LAFC and Atlanta United FC. On their home turf, Los Angeles is a -222 favorite to win. Meanwhile, the defending MLS champs are listed at +474 with a draw set at +380.
LAFC continues to hold a comfortable lead at the top of the Western Conference standings. Despite a loss last weekend in El Trafico, Bob Bradley’s team leads the second-place Galaxy by nine points. Prior to that loss, the Black and Gold had won three straight league matches by a combined score of 14-3.
Of course, Atlanta is no pushover. The Five Stripes are in second place in the Eastern Conference following back-to-back wins by a combined 7-0 scoreline. Atlanta had been winless in three straight league games prior to that, but they seem to be getting back on track in late July.
In the Middle
Despite a slow start to the season, Venezuelan striker Josef Martinez is starting to return to the form he had in 2018 when he won the Golden Boot and League MVP honors. Martinez has scored 11 goals over his last seven games, posing a stiff challenge for an LAFC backline that has yielded the fewest goals in MLS this year. No one else on Atlanta’s roster has more than four goals on the season, although Argentine midfielder Pity Martinez could be a player to watch, as he’s starting to feel more comfortable after joining Atlanta in January.
However, the biggest key for Atlanta in this game could be in the midfield. The likes of Darlington Nagbe and Eric Remedi will have to neutralize arguably the best midfield in MLS. Depending on Atlanta’s formation, the likes of Emerson Hyndman or Mo Adams could also play an important in helping United hold their own in the midfield.
Strength on Strength
Atlanta may have last year’s leading scorer in Martinez, but LAFC has this year’s leader for the Golden Boot in Carlos Vela. The Mexican international has scored 21 goals and dished out 12 assists this season. He’s also gotten plenty of help, with Diego Rossi chipping in 11 goals, and Eduard Atuesta dishing out eight assists from a deep midfield position, making the LAFC attack multifaceted and dangerous.
Of course, Atlanta has conceded the third-fewest goals in MLS this season, so they are strong defensively. The backline is led by Miles Robinson, who is an emerging star. United also has Brad Guzan in goal to help make up for any potential lapses. LAFC may be scoring at will lately, but they may not slice through Atlanta’s defense as easily as they have against Vancouver and Kansas City in recent games.
This will be Atlanta’s first time visiting Banc of California Stadium, where LAFC is undefeated this season. If any team has a chance to knock off the MLS point leaders on their home turf, it might be Atlanta. However, it’s hard to envision LAFC losing two in a row after how much they’ve dominated this season. Bet on LAFC getting back on track quickly with a win over Atlanta United on Friday.