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Week 28: A look ahead to Atlanta United

The Rapids face a formidable Eastern Conference opponent this weekend.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Josef Martinez and the boys from Hotlanta play in Denver for the first time in franchise history on Saturday when Atlanta United takes on our Colorado Rapids at 1:30 p.m.

Let’s just get this out of the way—Atlanta is an incredible team. Over the 27 games they’ve played so far, they’ve put in 56 goals (a league-best). Their scoring is led by Martinez, their DP from Venezuela who recently set the record for most goals in a single season. Currently, he sits at 28 goals. This means that he alone is averaging more than a goal a game. On the other hand, the Rapids haven’t scored a goal in about a month, so things are not looking in our favor.

If Portland’s offense was reliable, Atlanta’s is downright scary. Besides most goals for in MLS, they also have the best road record in the league with 8-3-2, which is better than the Rapids home record. Their three DPs—Martinez, Miguel Almiron, and Ezequiel Barco—are the kind of players that the Rapids will desperately need on their roster for the 2019 season. In addition, their goalkeeper is Brad Guzan, whom many consider to be Tim Howard’s closest rival in MLS. He’s helped lead Atlanta to another league best with a +23 goal differential. Meanwhile, the Rapids sit at a -19 differential, which is only better than Orlando City’s -22).

If the Rapids want to get a result from the team with the highest points per game, we can’t afford to sit back on our heels. We have to play a high-offense game and take advantage of the altitude and their depth issues at defense. Control possession, make them run around and get tired, and try and score when they are on their heels. I would be absolutely stunned beyond all belief if we manage to get a clean sheet against them, especially with their red-hot offense. Here is at least hoping that we can prevent this game from leading to another RSL situation.