Orlando City (12-11-6, 42 pts.) returns home for the first time since lifting the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup last week, facing rivals Atlanta United (9-12-9, 36 pts.) on Wednesday night with a chance to inch closer to the Eastern Conference top 4 and put the Five Stripes in dire straits for a playoff berth. The match is set to kick off at 6 p.m. ET and will be televised locally on FOX35 PLUS and LionNation TV, with pre-game coverage from Exploria Stadium beginning at 5:30 p.m. Local radio coverage will also be available from 5:30 p.m. ET on FM 96.9 the Game in English and Acción 97.9 FM in Spanish.
Here’s everything you need to know about Atlanta:
Key Additions - AM Thiago Almada (Vélez Sarsfield), GK Raul Gudino (Chivas), CF Ronaldo Cisneros (Chivas, loan), CM Osvaldo Alonso (Minnesota United), CF Dom Dwyer (Toronto FC), LW Edwin Mosquera (Independiente Medellín), CB Juanjo Purata (Tigres, loan)
Key Departures - AM Ezequiel Barco (River Plate, loan), LB George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), LW Jake Mulraney (Orlando City), CF Erik Lopez (Banfield, loan)
Take a look at Atlanta’s full roster here.
Atlanta’s playoff odds aren’t great, at just 8% according to FiveThirtyEight’s projections even after last Saturday’s 4-2 win against Toronto FC. They won that game without longtime talisman Josef Martínez, who was suspended by the team after an altercation with head coach Gonzalo Pineda. Martínez returned to the side on Monday and could make his return against Orlando on Wednesday.
Even with Saturday’s win, the Five Stripes have limped into the home stretch, a far cry from the dominance they showed over their first three seasons in MLS. After a long dry spell earlier in the summer, Atlanta has been about a .500 team since mid-July, enough to keep them afloat but not enough to get them above the playoff line. Big offseason signing Thiago Almada has impressed, though, earning his third MLS Team of the Week honor this past week after scoring a golazo against Toronto.
Atlanta owned this rivalry for three years, at one point winning six straight against Orlando City in all competitions, but the tables have been turned since Oscar Pareja came to the City Beautiful. Orlando is 3-1-4 against Atlanta under Pareja, including a 1-1 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium earlier this year which featured a Mauricio Pereyra free kick and a Save of the Year candidate from Pedro Gallese on former Lion Dom Dwyer.
Rasmussen University Fact
Atlanta center back Juanjo Purata made some history on Saturday, scoring a hat trick of headers on corner kicks to lift the Five Stripes to victory over TFC. “Air Force Juan” became only the second full-time defender in MLS history to record a hat trick and the first since Jose Vazquez of the 1997 LA Galaxy. Purata is tied with Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez for the league lead in headed goals with six.