The last time Orlando City SC and Atlanta United FC matched up was back on July 29th at Bobby Dodd Stadium and the end result was a 1-1 draw. This time around, however, the Lions will be coming off a victory and both teams will be playing in a totally different venue compared to the last meeting, as the contest will take place in the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium for a 3:55 p.m. kickoff. It has been no secret that Orlando City (9-12-7, 34 points) needed a win as badly as anyone in Major League Soccer and the Lions were finally able to notch their ninth win of the 2017 campaign with a 2-1 victory in the nation’s capitol over D.C. United. A win over Atlanta (12-8-6, 42 points) coupled with losses by the Montreal Impact and New England Revolution could help catapult the Lions into seventh place by the end of today. We take a look at this afternoon’s keys to the match.

Carry the momentum

There’s no sugar coating this, the 2-1 victory over D.C. United was huge in a lot of ways. Primarily for the sake of Orlando City’s psyche heading back into Atlanta, the Lions needed to have a little bit of confidence rolling into Atlanta United’s new digs they share with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. It would be an even bigger stroke of confidence if Orlando City could notch consecutive victories.

Forwards stay ready

It was no secret that Orlando City’s attack went a lot smoother and much of that can be attributed to the play of forwards Cyle Larin and Giles Barnes, whom both scored goals against D.C. United. last weekend. Both Larin and Barnes will need to be active once again, along with Dom Dwyer.

Defense remain steady with Bendik

Can’t fault the play of goalkeeper Joe Bendik much at all this season. The 28-year old had recorded 95 saves, most in the MLS, so far this season and made four more last Saturday. Bendik being the anchor in the middle of the defense for Orlando City has worked wonders.

Road warriors

Orlando City’s last two victories have both come on the road, with a June 30th 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake and D.C. United being the last two. The Lions haven’t been at home much lately, but another win on the road might prove that narrative that Orlando City has become more comfortable away from Orlando, FL.

Who steps upĀ 

Its been a next man up mentality for Orlando City and this afternoon’s contest remains no different, with the team being without Will Johnson (suspension) and Seb Hines (red card suspension). It was Barnes last week showing up, so who might stand out today?

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

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