City boasts an impressive record against reigning MLS Cup Champions in the Club’s five-year history. Through five contests with reigning league champions, the Lions boast a 3-1-1 record with a goal differential of +7. This stretch includes a 4-0 win over the L.A. Galaxy in 2015, a 4-1 win against the Portland Timbers in 2016 and a 2-1 win versus Toronto last season that also served as James O’Connor’s first victory at the helm. On Sunday the Lions will look for their first win on the road against a reigning league champion after drawing at Seattle 1-1 in 2017 and falling 2-1 in Toronto last season.
On Saturday against Toronto, goalkeeper Brian Rowe registered seven saves on the afternoon. This marked his second-highest total this season and put him at 37 saves in 2019, which sits at third in Major League Soccer just two shy of league-leader Daniel Vega of San Jose. Rowe recorded eight saves on March 16 against Montreal and prior to that had not registered more than five saves in a match since June 23, 2018 while a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Rest Effect
Sunday will mark the third time this season the Lions will face an opponent coming off short rest this season. City is unbeaten in the previous two after defeating Vancouver 1-0 on April 20 and drawing 1-1 the following week at NYCFC after both had played in Wednesday matches. Atlanta enters Sunday’s match coming off a midweek contest against Toronto FC in which they defeated The Reds by a score of 2-0.
Following Sunday’s match, City will be the ones facing a quick turnaround with its match in Atlanta being its first of three in eight days. The Lions travel to Seattle for their first midweek contest of the season on Wednesday, May 15 and return to Orlando for a Sunday match against FC Cincinnati on May 19, logging 5,140 miles of travel in that span.
Sunday’s match has the potential to feature two former Orlando City players for The Five Stripes. Former Lion Brek Shea was signed by Atlanta in the offseason after having spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons as a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Shea spent two seasons in Orlando in the Club’s inaugural MLS season in 2015 and again in 2016. In that span, Shea registered 46 appearances with 39 starts as a Lion, scoring three goals and adding six assists.
Another former Lion has just joined the Atlanta roster, as forward Justin Meram was traded from the Columbus Crew to The Five Stripes on Tuesday. Meram appeared in 17 matches with 14 starts for City in 2018, scoring one goal and recording three assists.
A Place Fit for All-Stars
This week’s contest features the sites for both last year’s 2018 MLS All-Star Game and this year’s looming 2019 MLS All-Star Game. Atlanta hosted Juventus in last year’s contest at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 1, with the Italian side prevailing 5-3 in penalty kicks after the match finished in a 1-1 deadlock. Orlando City Stadium will host the 2019 MLS All-Star Game between the MLS All-Stars and Atlético de Madrid of La Liga.