Atlanta United FC has quickly worked their way up the table in the Eastern Conference by winning each of their last four MLS matches. The club has finally hit the type of form that will have every club around the league worried. Speaking of having opposition sides worried, Orlando City SC made a very big announcement midweek. Dom Dwyer had returned to the club and could make his first MLS appearance for the side on Saturday.
The two clubs are meeting for the second time in two weeks and it is unlikely that either of them forgot the feistiness of the first game. This may lead to more of the same which would make for another highly entertaining match between the sides.
Orlando splashed the cash to make the return of Dwyer a possibility. The striker who spent time with the club in their USL days could make his first MLS appearance for the club vs Atlanta United on Saturday. Despite a relatively slow start to the 2017 MLS season, Dwyer is still capable of giving any defender in the league a headache. With Cyle Larin next to him, and Kaka creating for the pair, it could be goals galore for Orlando from here on out.
Though there is still quite some time to go in the MLS season, Orlando will be hoping to find themselves in a playoff spot as soon as they can, and a win on Saturday would put them over the line. The club is hoping the signing of Dwyer will not only help them immediately but at 26 years of age, he can help them long term as well. Dwyer will be hoping to make an impact as soon as Saturday and I don't think Orlando supporters would want it any other way.
Atlanta United: It is not all good news in the world of MLS forwards. Star striker Josef Martinez will be sidelined yet again with a foot injury. The Venezuelan goal scorer started the season hot but has missed a large chunk of the season due to injury. To add to that, another big name forward for the club will miss the match as Kenwyne Jones is also on the injured list due to knee inflammation.
Atlanta United will be happy Brad Guzan has finally arrived at the club as goalkeeper Alec Kann still has quite some time to recover from his left quad injury. Mark Bloom who is currently battling a back injury will also miss the match in Atlanta.
Orlando City SC: Orlando City has a smaller injury list than their opponents but will certainly miss the presence of some of their players.
Three defenders are on the injury list, one of them is Rafael Ramos. The Portuguese defender recently picked up a hamstring strain and it will force him to miss the match. Kevin Alston is also going to miss the match with a hamstring injury and PC will be sidelined with an adductor injury.
While most clubs aim for three points each and every week, both clubs will be fighting to get ahold of the three points for separate reasons. Some believe that these two are bound to become rivals, especially after the first meeting between the two, but the two will have even more motivation to win beyond that.
For Atlanta, they are currently enjoying their best MLS win streak in their brief stint in the league so far. A win for the club on Saturday would mark their fifth straight MLS win and move them even closer to a top three spot in the Eastern Conference. A fifth straight win would equal the second best ever win streak by an expansion side. Atlanta has won five straight home matches as well, which will give both the players and supporters confidence.
For Orlando, they are nearly in a playoff spot and with the addition of Dwyer, they feel they'll be there soon. The Orlando side has never featured in the MLS playoffs and would love to change that. Orlando would also like to begin the "Dwyer Era" with three points because they're seeking revenge on the side who beat them in their most recent match. The Lions started the season off with a roar and they're hoping to get back to that form.
This game could go a long way in deciding where the two sides sit at the end of the regular season.