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Union vs. Atlanta United: Preview, projected lineups, and how to watch

Robinson, Parkhurst injuries provide opportunity for Union in Atlanta.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Union’s playoff journey continues in Atlanta tonight, where the Union will look to advance to the Eastern Conference Final. They’ll have to defeat the defending MLS Cup champs to do so, a feat made less intimidating when you remember that the Union haven’t lost to Atlanta United all season.

In their last meeting in August, the Union eked out three points thanks to late goals from Sergio Santos and Kacper Przybylko. When the two sides met at Mercedes-Benz Stadium back in March, a Brenden Aaronson goal ensured that the Union left with a point.

Both sides come into this third encounter with significant injuries. Kacper Przybylko has been deemed “highly unlikely” to feature tonight after missing the past two games due to a stress reaction in his foot. Alejandro Bedoya is good to go, though. It was cramping, and not an aggravation of a recent quad injury, that forced him out of the game in extra time on Sunday.

Atlanta is missing center backs Miles Robinson and Michael Parkhurst. Before suffering the hamstring injury that sidelined him for Saturday’s first-round match-up with New England, Robinson had started all but one game this season and earned his first USMNT cap. Parkhurst adopted more of a rotation role for Atlanta during the season, but he demonstrated his quality against the Revs. Atlanta would be in good shape had Parkhurst not dislocated his shoulder just minutes before the final whistle.

Florentin Pogba and Jeff Larentowicz figure to be the next men up, but their lack of playing time and odd fit may make Frank de Boer reconsider his preferred three-man back line. Whether FdB changes his tactics or not, Atlanta is a fundamentally different team without their best center back in Robinson and an MLS legend in Parkhurst. However Atlanta manage to remedy the situation, their defense will certainly cede more opportunities than it has throughout the year.

If the Union manage to overcome Atlanta United, they’ll be just one home game away from MLS Cup. NYCFC’s late collapse to Toronto FC last night ensured that the Eastern Conference Final won’t be played at Yanke—err, Citi Field.

Projected lineups

Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Mark McKenzie, Kai Wagner; Haris Medunjanin; Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro; Brenden Aaronson; Andrew Wooten, Sergio Santos

Atlanta United: Brad Guzan; Franco Escobar, Leandro González-Pírez, Florentin Pogba; Julian Gressel, Darlington Nagbe, Jeff Larentowicz, Justin Meram; Ezequiel Barco, Pity Martínez; Josef Martínez

How to watch

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, October 24, 2019

TV: ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes

Streaming: WatchESPN

Radio: Union Radio, SiriusXM Channel 157