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Week 2 Game Preview: Home Opener

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Atlanta's 2021 MLS season kicked off in Orlando last weekend, earning a draw in a pretty balanced game overall. Atlanta United will look to build on its attack in their home opener Saturday against one of Major League Soccer's most historic clubs.

Atlanta United (0-1-0) vs. Chicago Fire (0-1-0)

Saturday, April 24th

MLS Regular Season (Match 2 of 34)

Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Time: 8:00 pm

Where to Watch: ESPN+

Predicted Lineups

Atlanta United (4-3-3)

With Atlanta's CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal matchup Tuesday home against Philly, we could see some rotation here. I really wanted to put in Aberdeen loanee Ronald Hernandez in for Brooks Lennon for this reason, but with DP center back Alan Franco slated to make his debut, I didn't want to predict two changes to a back line that has not conceded a goal yet this season. A few other positions that could go either way are if Franco Ibarra or Emerson Hyndman starts next to Sosa in the midfield, Jake Mulraney or Jurgen Damm on the right side, and Josef Martinez or Lisandro Lopez up top. Even with the game Tuesday, expect a very strong XI as manager Gabriel Heinze wants his guys to get up to his expectations as early as possible.

Chicago Fire (4-2-3-1)

2nd-year manager Raphael Wicky is looking to improve on the foundation he put in place last season. The goal of this campaign is to get his club into the playoffs for the first time since 2017. The Chicago Fire in 2020 defeated Atlanta 2-0 in Soldier Field. The team was led by DP-striker Robert Beric, who had 11 goals in a short-handed season. USMNT midfielder Djordje Mihailovic was traded from the Fire to Montreal this offseason for up to $1 million in allocation money. Their leader in the midfield is very familiar with Gabriel Heinze as Gaston Gimenez played under him at Velez Sarsfield from 2018 to 2020. Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth collected five saves against the Five Stripes last season.

I expect Atlanta to open up more aggressive as they've had a week to rest and prepare for this match. 3 points Saturday will bring needed confidence towards a push for a run in CCL starting next week.

Twitter: @bleslie19

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