Undefeated Union host short-handed Atlanta United

ByField Level Media ESPN logo
Saturday, April 13, 2024

Two Eastern Conference rivals will slug it out Sunday afternoon when Atlanta United host the Philadelphia Union.

The Union (3-0-3, 12 points) are undefeated in their first six matches of the season and currently sit in second place in the conference title behind the New York Red Bulls. Their goal difference of plus-five was the best of any team in the East heading into the weekend.

Leading the charge for Philadelphia so far this season have been midfielder Daniel Gazdag and forward Julian Carranza, who share the team high with four goals. Carranza scored four goals in three appearances for the Union in the Concacaf Champions Cup.

Having scored at least 14 goals in each of his previous two seasons with Philadelphia, Carranza is ready to lead his club to what it hopes is a seventh consecutive appearance in the MLS Cup playoffs.

"The majority of us understand each other really well, which makes me feel comfortable, and you see that on the field," Carranza said of his team. "I feel very comfortable, very happy here and we're preparing for what's coming in the future."

Atlanta (3-2-1, 10 points), meanwhile, is coming off a disappointing draw at New York City FC last week and currently sits sixth in the Eastern Conference standings.

While Atlanta has the talent to challenge any club in the league, it has had issues keeping its best players on the field at the same time this season. Atlanta United will play Sunday without forward Jamal Thiare (left hamstring) and defender Derrick Williams (left calf), who both picked up injuries in the match against NYCFC. Each player is expected to miss two to four weeks, the team said this week.

Even with the absences, Atlanta head coach Gonzalo Pineda recognizes how important Sunday's match is to his team as it hopes to move up the conference table.

"The objective is to win this one so we can get two points per game," Pineda said. "With that, we kind of make up for the other two games that we didn't win away. The formula of winning at home and tying, at least, away is a good formula to get in the top four and compete for the (Supporters)' Shield."

--Field Level Media