The Beat (1-4-1) are on a three-game losing streak and haven't won since the last time they faced the Sky Blue on April 16. Meanwhile, Sky Blue (0-3-1) is still looking for their first win of the season after getting their lone point in a season-opening draw with Philadelphia.
In the teams' last meeting, Atlanta scored the lone goal at KSU Soccer Stadium, even though it was outshot 11-4. Beat goalkeeper Allison Lipsher was key in earning the shutout, and the corresponding WPS Player of the Week honor.
Sky Blue, however, could come out with more energy than they presented in Atlanta.
"The question is going to be how we respond to the extra bite that (Sky Blue) will have to win this game when it comes down to these young players," Beat coach James Galanis said. "It's a week-to-week sort of thing that we don't know. I can just go out there, motivate them, tell them what they are able to do and, hopefully, we are able to match the momentum that (Sky Blue) brings.
"I think that's going to be a big secret to this game. We're going to have to match the momentum right from the beginning. I think if we can match the momentum and see off their adrenaline phase, then I think we have the legs to outwork them eventually as the game goes along."
Speaking of momentum, the Beat took a 1-0 lead on Philadelphia last week and had a man-up advantage following a red card, only to lose 2-1 in the second half. In training this week, Galanis said he stressed the importance of putting together two full halves of play.
"Energy and commitment to fighting for 90 minutes instead of 45," Beat midfielder Megan Jesolva said of what it would take to duplicate their first half from last week. "But we just need to be committed and not be content with a 1-0 lead going into halftime. We need to come out and give everything for every minute on the field."
On top of a renewed effort, the impact of national team commitments will also be felt this week. The U.S. faced Japan twice over the last week, which may have fatigued several of the key stars for both teams. Sky Blue's Heather O'Reilly played much of the two exhibitions, as did the Beat's Carli Lloyd.
On top of that, the Swedish and English national teams played one another over the last week, impacting four players on Sky Blue's roster.
"The national team members are returning and will not be starting," Galanis said of his players, Lloyd and defender Heather Mitts, "because they're here for a couple of games, then leave again for awhile. I was happy with the team's overall performance last week. The result wasn't good, but there was lots of stuff we could build off of.
"I think Carli will be tired as well. She's just played two games in maybe five days. So, I'd rather just save her and bring her off the bench if needed."
As for Sky Blue, coach Jim Gabarra said we would decide Friday what the status of O'Reilly and Tobin Heath would be. The same is the case for the Swedish Therese Sjogran and English team members Eniola Aluko, Karen Bardsley and Anita Asante.
Gabarra said Asante stands the greatest chance at starting since Sky Blue is "a little thin" at defender.