Match: Penn FC at Atlanta United 2
Date: Sunday, April 8th
Time: 4 p.m. Eastern, 3 p.m. Central, 1 p.m. Pacific, 8 p.m. UTC
Venue: Coolray Field (Lawrenceville, GA)
Refs: REF: ELTON GARCIA AR1: HOWARD ASH AR2: THOMAS BRIGMAN 4TH: CHRISTOPHER HEINTZMAN
How to Watch:
How Atlanta will look: This is only the third ever match for Atlanta United 2, but they have held their own in the USL so far. They started off the season with a 3-1 win over New York Red Bulls II and they very nearly beat Charlotte Independence last week, but they settled for a 2-2 draw. Their most important assets have been the loaned players from their parent club. Players like Jon Gallagher and Lagos Kunga have been loaned down in early matches and making a big impact.
The most familiar face for Atlanta is Yosef Samuel who spent the last two seasons with Bethlehem Steel. Before that he spent three years in the Philadelphia Union youth system. He made 20 appearances with the Steel over two years, but he never got a chance to make a big impact. He has already made the most of his opportunity with ATL UTD 2, having scored the team’s first ever goal in their first match.
How Penn FC will look: Penn FC has been scoreless in two matches, but they’re doing their best to change that. They signed Tommy Heinemann last week and he came closest to scoring last week in Pittsburgh. They added four more players on Friday, three of which are offensively oriented.
The most interesting player could be Jerry Ortiz who most recently played for Once Caldas in Liga Aguila in Columbia. They also brought in a trio of players on loan from Ghana Premier League side Inter Allies. Freddy Opoku is the most familiar face, having played for the Harrisburg City Islanders last season. The other two are Issac Osae, who normally lines up as a striker, and Haruna Shaibu, who might see time as a holding midfielder.
What to expect: With so many fresh faces on both sides, it’s hard to tell what to expect with this early season match up. But Penn FC can’t take the new guys lightly. ATL UTD 2 beat Red Bulls II by two goals and Red Bulls II beat Charleston Battery by three goals. So since Charleston beat Penn FC by one goal, it feels like they could be a big underdog against Atlanta.
Penn FC will want to settle in early, and the best way to do that will be to get the first goal of the season. It doesn’t even have to be a pretty one, they just need to get on the board at some point. They have plenty of offensive talent, but after two scoreless matches to start the season, they’re probably dealing with the psychological blocks that go along with not being able to score. Putting one in the net will help everyone loosen up.
For ATL UTD 2, their main concern will be trying to unlock the Penn FC defense. Penn FC has lined up in a 3-5-2 in both matches this season, and they’ve managed to keep the number of chances available to opposing teams to a minimum. When they did give Pittsburgh some space last week, they had goalkeeper Romu Peiser there to bail them out. The Frenchman has shown some impressive reflexes already this season, and it won’t be easy for ATL UTD 2 to get one past him.
PREDICTION: There’s a lot of unanswered questions going into this one. Atlanta is the favorite at home, but I feel like Penn FC is going to improve as they spend more time together. I think this one will be evenly matched and end 1-1.