Atlanta United is coming off an encouraging draw, but the team will look to add more bite to its attack when it hosts Nashville SC on Saturday afternoon.
Atlanta (2-1-3, 9 points) became the first visiting team to earn a point in Seattle this season in a 1-1 draw last Sunday after Josef Martinez’s late, game-tying penalty kick.
As with all of their previous matches, United again held the majority of possession. But aside from Martinez’s penalty, Atlanta put only one shot on target, continuing a theme of struggling to turn its time on the ball to clear-cut chances.
Martinez — back after missing almost all of 2020 with a torn ACL — is cautiously hopeful the draw was the start of something better.
“If we don’t create chances, we don’t have the possibility to win a game,” he said after the draw. “You can have the ball all game. You can run more than the other team, but if you don’t create chances, you don’t win. In soccer, you win with goals, not with possession.
“But we are happy. It’s not easy to get a point away against another amazing team. So we have to keep working and see what happens.”
United will encounter a Nashville side that might be as comfortable as any in MLS allowing Atlanta to hold possession.
Saturday’s visitors have conceded the majority of possessions in three consecutive games, but they’ve taken seven points out of nine in that stretch.
Nashville (2-0-4, 10 points) also has gone four matches without conceding a goal as one of three remaining unbeaten sides in MLS. They’ll try to defeat Atlanta in what is consistently one of the league’s toughest away environments.
“They do get a fantastic following. And if it doesn’t inspire the guys to drag another 5 or 10 percent out of themselves, then I’m not sure anything will,” Nashville manager Gary Smith said. “It’s a game on the schedule that I think everyone licks their lips and looks forward to.”