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Columbus Crew SC vs. Atlanta United | 2017 MLS Match Preview

Columbus Crew SC vs. Atlanta United
2017 MLS Regular Season
MAPFRE Stadium – Columbus, Ohio
Saturday, July 1 – 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE

Kekuta Manneh has finally arrived on the scene in Columbus. After a fraught few months following his trade from the Vancouver Whitecaps that raised big questions about his fitness and continuity in MLS, Manneh finally broke through in a key win for Crew SC last weekend.

The Gambian-born winger, who recently acquired US citizenship, came off the bench with Columbus locked in a 1-1 battle with the Montreal Impact. Within three minutes he had a goal and an assist – just the fourth time in 107 regular season games he has done so – and Crew SC were on their way to a critical in-conference win.

Standing in the way of continued success for Manneh and Crew SC, though, is a high-powered Atlanta team determined to end a two-month winless streak on the road. During that run, Atlanta have gone 0-4-1 away from home, including a three-game losing streak entering this weekend. Atlanta have allowed 2.2 goals per game over their five-game skid.

"We have an imbalance with the team right now. We play well at home but poor on the road," said Martino after Atlanta’s 3-2 loss at Miami FC in the U.S. Open Cup. "We know that if we want to move up on the table we need to start playing better on the road and that starts on Saturday versus Columbus."

Columbus Crew SC

Crew SC look set to get a big boost to their backline with the news that Ghana international defenders Harrison Afful and Jonathan Mensah are likely to return to the team after featuring in a friendly for their national team against Mexico on Wednesday. Ghana are set to face the United States on Saturday in another friendly (4:45 pm ET | ESPN, UniMás, UDN), but because it does not fall within the FIFA international match window, Crew SC are not obligated to release their players.

An ESPN FC report claimed the duo were already on their way back, while midfielder Mohammed Abu would remain with the Black Stars for the US friendly. 

“I would say that. I think that’s fair to say,” Berhalter told reporters at training this week. “We’re working through all that right now. By FIFA law, we’re not required to release them for these games.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended next yellow card: None
  • Int’l Duty: Mohammed Abu (Ghana)
  • Injury Report: OUT – Gaston Sauro (left PCL surgery), M Ben Swanson (right ankle surgery), M Niko Hansen (hernia surgery)

Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, right to left): Zack Steffen –  Harrison Afful, Josh Williams, Jonathan Mensah, Jukka Raitala – Artur, Wil Trapp – Kekuta Manneh, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram – Ola Kamara

Notes: Columbus have scored in 19 consecutive home games in the regular season. The franchise record is 23, set from July 14, 2014 to August 22, 2015. Crew SC have also scored in 22 consecutive home regular season games on two other occasions.  

Atlanta United

With the return of Josef Martinez to the fold for Atlanta, the Five Stripes are just waiting on two more players to return to full health – forwards Kenwyne Jones and Jacob Peterson. Both will be valuable depth as the wear and tear of the summer starts to take hold, and Atlanta head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino expects to have them back after the Gold Cup break. In the meantime, Martino and his staff will only have to otherwise account for the absence of frequent loanee Romario Williams, who is headed to the Gold Cup with Jamaica.

“Our expectations for Kenwyne are that he’s able to start training soon. I don’t think he’ll be able to play in the match against San Jose [on July 4],” Martino told reporters this week. “Jacob, he’s already running at almost 100 percent. So he’s intensifying his physical preparation, but our idea is to have both of them back when we re-start the season after the [Gold Cup] break.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended next yellow card: None
  • Int’l Duty: Romario Williams (Jamaica)
  • Injury Report: OUT – F Jacob Peterson (right lower leg injury), F Kenwyne Jones (knee inflammation)

Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Alec Kann – Tyrone Mears, Michael Parkhurst, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Greg Garza – Jeff Larentowicz, Carlos Carmona – Hector Villalba, Miguel Almiron, Yamil Asad – Josef Martinez

Notes: Josef Martinez is averaging 1.49 goals plus assists per 90 minutes played (seven goals, zero assists). This is the best rate of goals plus assist per 90 minutes amongst the 73 MLS players with at least five combined goals and assists.

All-Time Series

This is the second all-time meeting between the two sides. Atlanta took the first match-up at home by a 3-1 scoreline on June 17, 2017.

  • Overall: Columbus 0 wins (1 goal) … 1 win (3 goals) … Ties 0
  • At CLB: First meeting.

Referees

Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell, Kyle Longville
4th Official: Younes Marrakchi

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Previous Meetings

Current Form

Columbus
Atlanta

Season Stats

Columbus Crew SCAtlanta United FC
18Games Played17
8Wins7
9Losses7
1Draws3
29Goals33
30Goals Conceded25
164Shots152
79Shots on Target81
204Fouls committed203
197Fouls suffered208
36Offside37
85Corners81

Goals Scored

01234+TotalAvg
CLB36531291.6
ATL28133331.9
01234+Avg
CLB024212.2
ATL030222.4
01234+Avg
CLB341101
ATL251111.6

Goals Conceded

01234+TotalAvg
CLB44631301.7
ATL36530251.5
01234+Avg
CLB332101.1
ATL231101.1
01234+Avg
CLB114212.2
ATL134201.7
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