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Apr 26, 2024 8:15 pm

Atlanta United trying to protect leads, take aim at Fire

giakoumakis

Atlanta United will try to rid themselves of a recent trend of giving back late leads on Saturday night when they visit a Chicago Fire side dealing with a pair of injuries to key midfielders.

Atlanta (3-3-2, 11 points) is winless in its last three matches, and has dropped points after holding the lead in its previous two matches at home, matches that finished as a 2-2 draw against Philadelphia and a 2-1 defeat to FC Cincinnati.

In each of those home contests, the Five Stripes conceded both goals in a short stretch: Philly scored its goals four minutes apart, and only two minutes separated Luca Orellano and Luciano Acosta’s goals for Cincy.

Perhaps the best option for Atlanta is to overrun opponents. All three of its wins have come by multiple goals.

The potential return of Giorgios Giakoumakis to the starting lineup could help. The five-goal scorer missed two of those three winless matches with a knee issue, then came on as a substitute in the Cincinnati defeat.

“One simple thing I can tell you is that we have to stay concentrated,” Giakoumakis said. “Think like champions, because you cannot drop this amount of points when you are leading a game.”

Giakoumakis scored in Atlanta’s previous 3-0 win over the Fire at home on the final day of March.

This time around, attacking midfielders Brian Gutierrez and Xherdan Shaqiri are both uncertain for the offensively challenged Fire, after each came out with an injury in a 4-0 home defeat to Real Salt Lake.

Chicago (2-4-3, 9 points) has failed to score in three of its last four matches, and that midfield tandem has amounted to five of the Fire’s 11 total goals scored.

Last week’s loss was a low point so far this season, with RSL effectively putting the match out of reach by storming to a 3-0 halftime lead.

“It’s a little bit difficult for us right now, you know?” Fire coach Frank Klopas said. “It’s not an excuse. I think the guys have worked really hard, the other guys. We just have to find a way now to approach this game and definitely come out with a much stronger mentality.”

–Field Level Media

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