A rough run of form for Atlanta United doesn’t get any easier on Thursday night when they visit a Nashville SC side that is unbeaten in eight home games.
Atlanta (2-3-6, 12 points) is winless in its last six games (four draws, two defeats), most recently losing 3-0 in Chicago over the weekend to the Fire, an opponent that had one previous victory all season.
But in addition to facing Nashville on its home turf, manager Gabriel Heinze will also have to figure out how to field a team that could be without as many as 11 players.
Among them, goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defenders Miles Robinson and George Bello are with the U.S. national team at the Gold Cup. Winger Ezequiel Barco has joined Argentina’s Olympic preparations. Creative midfielder Santiago Sosa is questionable with a lower-body injury, and striker Josef Martinez is questionable with fitness concerns.
Goalkeeper Alec Kann, who is likely to replace Guzan for Atlanta on Thursday night, hopes for one game that he and other reserves can make up for those absences with the energy that comes from opportunity.
“Guys are hungry,” Kann told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Guys ask for opportunities all the time. When they come, you need to take it and run with it.”
Nashville (4-1-6, 18 points) has a couple Gold Cup absences of its own to contend with, most notably American defender Walker Zimmerman and Panamanian midfielder Anibal Godoy.
But unlike Atlanta, Thursday’s hosts have plenty of recent success to give them confidence. Most recently, they improved their unbeaten home record to 4-0-4 with a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on C.J. Sapong’s early goal.
It was also a notable win because manager Gary Smith opted to shift formations to a three-back system, showing the defending Supporters’ Shield champions considerable respect.
“These games are not going to be runaway victories,” Smith said after the win. “They’re always going to be tight affairs but trying to turn what might just have been a competitive game into a victory was never going to be easy. The guys have managed to do that tonight.”
–Field Level Media
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