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Massive Predictions: Atlanta United at the Crew

Can the Crew finally get a win against the defending MLS Cup champions?

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a fact that Columbus Crew SC fans won’t want to hear heading into Saturday’s game against Atlanta United: the Black & Gold are 0-4 against the Five Stripes in Major League Soccer regular season play. Of course there was that one playoff win (technically a tie) that Crew fans will always have, but Columbus has never been able to even get a point from United in the team’s first two years of existence.

The Black & Gold hope to change that on Saturday night when the defending MLS Cup champions come to MAPFRE Stadium. The Crew enter the game 2-1-1, after suffering the team’s first loss of the season last week at the Philadelphia Union. Atlanta, after having last week off, is 0-1-2 to begin the team’s third campaign in MLS.

Both teams have first-year head coaches taking over, but both coaches are experienced and successful. Can the Crew get off the mark against United and back to winning ways, or will the Black & Gold hand the Five Stripes their first win of 2019? Let’s see what our staff thinks.

Jimmy Lentz

After losing 3-0 on the road to the Philadelphia Union, Columbus needs a major course correction in the form of a comprehensive performance and win. While the Crew missed Zack Steffen, Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes against Philly, last weekend’s defeat had nothing to do with their absence.

This Saturday’s home match against Atlanta United — a team struggling to match expectations with new head coach Frank de Boer after winning the 2018 MLS Cup — will be a stern test. The first 15 minutes will be critical in which fans should see a laser-focused Crew. An early goal for Columbus seems likely but will probably be insufficient against a frustrated yet determined Atlanta side. On this note, United has not scored more than one goal per game so far this MLS season, which provides a challenge for the Crew defensively to maintain that low goal-scoring ceiling and opportunity to seize offensively.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Atlanta United 1

Patrick Murphy

I’ve always liked games between Atlanta and Columbus because, at least under Tata Martino and Gregg Berhalter, they’re tactical battles. I expect the same with Frank de Boer and Caleb Porter running things on Saturday. The question is, can Porter out-tactic de Boer, or will talent ultimately win out (as it has so frequently in this series)?

Both teams are searching for a win — the Crew to prove that last week’s 3-0 loss to the Union was a fluke and United because they don’t have one yet. The Black & Gold will get its national team players back, but Zack Steffen is still a question mark. I think Columbus will look better than the team did last week, but won’t have enough to get its first regular season win against the Five Stripes.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Atlanta United 2

Abigail Hintz

Atlanta has had a very underwhelming start to the season, and the chances of them coming into Columbus and getting a win seem slim to me. My confidence on the win really depends on Zack Steffen’s status Saturday. The keeper missed the recent USMNT matches with a knee injury and is not guaranteed to play this weekend. However, if the Crew’s backline gets back to form and can contain Josef Martinez, I think they can bounce back from last week’s defeat and get three points.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Atlanta United 1

Sam Fahmi

The Crew will be looking to rebound from a frustratingly terrible performance in a 3-0 loss at Philadelphia. However, they have to do this against the defending MLS champions Atlanta United. Two factors may play in the Crew’s favor in this game. The first, and most important, is the return of players on international duty. The absence of those players was felt in the loss to the Union. Second, this game is at home. And while the weather looks to be its usual Ohio self, it does take Atlanta outside of its regular indoor elements. The diehards will be there in force, but probably not many others. Even though Atlanta has not been its championship self, they may be looking to pounce on a wounded Crew team. As both teams continue to adjust to their respective new coaches, this game can go in a variety of ways.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Atlanta United 1

Tyler Fisher

Columbus gets Gyasi Zardes, Wil Trapp, Justin Meram and Waylon Francis back just in time for this epic clash against the reigning MLS Cup champions. Although it’s still uncertain whether or not Zack Steffen will be in net, the Black & Gold are definitely happy to not only have their key players back in their lineup, but also happy to be in front of the Crew faithful.

Atlanta on the other hand, is still struggling to find its rhythm. Granted, United has had much success against Columbus during the regular season. Will that continue Saturday? It’s all in the hands of Columbus, as they are riding a 3-0 loss to the Union, which gives them something to play hard for in order to please the home crowd. But Josef Martinez is a player that cannot be stopped. If contained correctly, this game plays out to a draw, which I think will happen.
Columbus Crew 1 Atlanta United 1

Mike Crosky

I have a strange feeling that Saturday’s game versus Atlanta is going to be a weird one. I don’t know if it is because of the inclement weather coming into town or what, but something tells me this is going to be a bizarre contest. Even with Atlanta still trying to find themselves under new coach Frank de Boer, I have a feeling the defending champs will earn their first victory of 2019 against the Crew. Columbus will have Wil Trapp back and hopefully Zack Steffen as well, but I see this one going in favor of United.
Atlanta United 3 Columbus Crew SC 2

Elmer Plasencia

Columbus got a little dose of reality last weekend with the 3-0 loss to Philadelphia. With that being said, they do have some pieces back from the international break which should help going into this tough matchup with the reigning MLS Cup champs. For Atlanta, this season has been a struggle to start. They have picked up two points from three matches and have struggled to score as their squad gets use to Frank de Boer’s system. It should be a wet evening, so I don’t expect it to be a particularly pretty game from either side.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Atlanta United 1

Collin Johnson

It’s finally time to see what this team is made of. Last week’s loss wasn’t shocking but the relative domination by Philadelphia certainly was. But, playing at home with Wil Trapp, Gyasi Zardes, Waylon Francis and Justin Meram back in action should help remedy the errors from last week’s match.

Atlanta travels to Columbus without Pity Martinez or a win in 2019, struggling to adapt to Frank de Boer’s three center back system. This might be the week that the Five Stripes figure it out or it might be another bump in the road of an MLS Championship hangover season. I’m leaning toward the latter. In recent years, MLS teams have notoriously struggled coming off of an MLS Cup appearance. Add in Atlanta’s struggles with a new manager who has blown up their successful system, some new players who have yet to gel, and the loss of Miguel Almiron and that’s a recipe for a tough season. I’m sure Caleb Porter has had this match circled on his schedule and will have the Crew prepared to match up against Atlanta.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Atlanta United 1

Jay Homan

Getting a win against Atlanta United is still one of the Crew’s white whales. Sure they beat them in the playoffs in 2017, but technically that was a draw. Sadly I don’t think they will get over the hump this weekend. Atlanta didn’t play last weekend during the international break so they have a team that is mostly well rested and looking to get back on track. The Crew have Gyasi Zardes, Justin Meram (who has possibly redound his form with the Iraq national team) Wil Trapp and Waylon Francis returning. All these key players will help get the team back to form but are will likely be tired from the extra travel and games. Atlanta is going to create opportunities that will eventually break down the Crew while Columbus with continue to search for their main scoring threat.
Atlanta United 2 Columbus Crew SC 1

Ralph Schudel

We’re in for an interesting game Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium. Columbus looks to regain its footing following an embarrassing debacle last weekend against the Union. Their opponent, Atlanta United, looks to recapture its form following a lackluster start to the season.

Don’t bet against the Five Stripes. Saturday’s opponents remain unbeaten against Columbus. You will probably say, what about the playoff in 2017? That game ended in a tie officially in the record books, the Crew advanced on penalty kicks (cue Adam Jahn).

I think Atlanta’s success continues Saturday, with Hector Villalba and Josef Martinez finding the scoresheet.
Atlanta United 3 Columbus Crew SC 1

Guilherme Torres

Atlanta has traditionally been a tough matchup for the Crew. Aside from the historical playoff triumph in 2017, the Black & Gold haven’t had much luck against the Georgians.

That could somewhat change this week as the Crew will face a struggling opponent, which looks just a shadow of last year’s powerhouse. Columbus has the tools to explore many of Atlanta’s current issues and, playing at home and looking to bounce back from a horrific loss in Philadelphia last week, they should really do it.
Columbus Crew 2 Atlanta United 1

Nick Hudak

It’s (almost) safe to say that this Atlanta United side is not the same as last year. In short, they’ve struggled with the absence of head coach Tata Martino and playmaker Miguel Almiron. They’ve lost a lot of luster between last year and now.

Although they are coming off of their first loss of the season, the Black & Gold are getting their national team players back from the international break. They also hope Zack Steffen will be fit for this matchup as well. Assuming the squad is nearly the same as we saw up until the match versus Philadelphia, Columbus should have no issue defending home turf.
Columbus Crew 3 Atlanta United 1

What are your thoughts from the game? Can the Crew rebound and get a win against Atlanta or will it be more struggles against United? Let us know your prediction in the comments below.