After a winless start to their MLS Cup title defense, Atlanta United is looking to get on track when the club visits the New England Revolution on Saturday.
Atlanta is 0-2-2 through four MLS matches this season, and also made an early exit from the CONCACAF Champions League in the quarter-final round. With a full two weeks since its last game, however, a rested and increasingly healthy Atlanta (two points) is looking to capitalize.
Franco Escobar (adductor), Pity Martinez (hamstring) and Florentin Pogba (hamstring) all participated in training this week, with Pogba looking to make his debut for Atlanta.
Escobar was perhaps the largest health question hanging over the lineup, as the defender missed Atlanta's first three games due to a broken collarbone and then played only 53 minutes in Atlanta United's 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew on March 30.
Now, however, Escobar is "doing really well and is ready to start if selected for the team," Atlanta coach Frank de Boer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The presence of Escobar and Pogba should bolster a defensive corps that will be without Mikey Ambrose. The fullback will miss the next three-to-five weeks of action due to a right meniscus injury.
The Revolution will also be missing at least one notable member of their back line. Michael Mancienne is suspended for Saturday's match after receiving a red card ejection in New England's 1-0 loss to Columbus on April 6. Antonio Mlinar Delamea is questionable to face Atlanta after missing last week due to a knee injury.
New England (four points) has experienced its own slow start, with just a 1-4-1 record through six games. Saturday's match opens the Revolution's only three-game homestand of the season, giving the club an opportunity to dig itself out of its early-season hole.
"It's huge. Obviously in this league, home games are paramount. There's so much parity," defender Jalil Anibaba said. "So we're looking to do well with these three games at home ... and right now the main focus is Atlanta."
Atlanta United is 2-0-2 in four all-time meetings with the Revolution.
--Field Level Media