Orlando City (7-4-4, 25 pts) will take the field this Friday night looking to bounce back from a difficult defeat last weekend, facing off against Atlanta United (2-5-8, 14 pts) at 8 p.m. ET at Exploria Stadium. The match, presented by Heineken, will be televised nationally on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. Local radio coverage is available from 7:30 p.m. on FM 96.9 the Game in English and Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM in Spanish.
Here’s everything you need to know about Atlanta:
Key Transactions and Player News
Key Additions - CB Alan Franco (Independiente), DM Santiago Sosa (River Plate), CM Franco Ibarra (Argentinos Juniors), RB Ronald Hernández (Aberdeen, loan), CF Lisandro López (Racing Club)
Key Departures - Head Coach Gabriel Heinze, RB Franco Escobar (Newell’s Old Boys, loan), CB Fernando Meza (Defensa y Justicia, loan), F Jon Gallagher (Austin FC), CM Eric Remedi (San Jose Earthquakes), CM Jeff Larentowicz (retirement)
Player News - For the second time this month, Orlando City will face off against an interim coach. This time, though, it will be an old friend patrolling the sidelines. Rob Valentino, who played for the Lions in their USL period from 2011-14, has taken charge in the wake of Gabriel Heinze’s dismissal on July 18.
Valentino should have former Landon Donovan MLS MVP Josef Martinez at his disposal. Martinez was removed from team training under Heinze but returned to the starting lineup last weekend against Columbus. The Venezuelan has two goals in 212 minutes this season as he recovers from an ACL tear that cost him the entire 2020 season.
Take a look at Atlanta’s full roster here.
It’s been a far cry from Atlanta’s 2018 MLS Cup season so far this year. The Five Stripes have won just twice in their 15 MLS regular season games and are winless in ten, with their last victory coming on May 15 against CF Montréal. Atlanta has scored just three goals in their last seven games and has been shut out six times this year, including by Orlando City on April 17.
Orlando City has fully turned the tables on Atlanta United over the past year, going unbeaten in five straight games in the matchup. The Lions took eight points from four games against the Five Stripes last season, with seven different Orlando players finding the scoresheet. The two teams played to a 0-0 draw in this season’s opener.
Rasmussen University Fact
Atlanta’s current winless run is double the previous club record, a five-game losing run set last season. The Five Stripes began their history with 55-, 69-, and 58-point seasons from 2017-19, but have accumulated just 36 points in 38 games across 2020 and 2021.