Atlanta United will try to begin another long home unbeaten run Sunday against a visiting Inter Miami squad that still needs to improve its away form.
Atlanta (4-5-4, 16 points) lost 2-1 to the Columbus Crew on May 28 to halt what had been a 13-match undefeated stretch at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Manager Gonzalo Pineda’s side were idle in MLS during the June international break. Before the pause, Atlanta earned only five points from their five May matches despite 11 goals scored in that span.
But a friendly win over Pachuca of Mexico’s Liga MX during the break and the return from injury of striker Josef Martinez and midfielder Santiago Sosa has Pineda feeling his team is in a better place.
“This victory against Pachuca, it was a good test for us against a very good opponent, and the team is playing good football. They are enjoying their football,” Pineda said. “And to attack, and to be able to reproduce that every match, we are in a key moment of the season.”
Atlanta will be without attacker Thiago Almada, who serves a red card suspension after being sent off late in the loss to Columbus. The 21-year-old had contributed three goals and two assists in his last four MLS games.
Miami (5-6-3, 18 points) entered the break after back-to-back MLS victories over the New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers at home.
But the Herons are just 1-4-1 away from home and will need to improve if they are to parlay their recent uptick in form into a playoff appearance.
“We did some really good things before the break, some really good performances,” said manager Phil Neville. “But now I feel is where the marathon starts. It’s a big stretch now where we’ve got to really, really collect points and continue to climb that table. We’ve not achieved anything yet.”
Leonardo Campana scored his team-leading seventh goal for Miami against the Timbers as he continues chasing a spot on Ecuador’s final World Cup squad later this year.
He appeared twice for his country over the international break, most recently as a sub in last weekend’s 1-0 win against Cape Verde.
–Field Level Media