Surging Atlanta looks to keep moving up vs. Philadelphia (Sep 27, 2017)

Atlanta United have been streaking up the Eastern Conference standings during an impressive stretch at home on the expansion franchise’s new pitch inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

United are unbeaten in their last 11 home games, including a 4-0-1 run at Mercedes-Ben Stadium. They’ll look to extend that streak Wednesday, when the Philadelphia Union come to town.

The Union are coming off a 3-1 win over the Chicago Fire and lost only once in their last six matches, including a 2-2 draw with Atlanta on Aug. 26. United defender Tyrone Mears delivered the equalizer in stoppage time to pull out the draw in Philadelphia.

Two weeks later, United opened a six-game home stand and have been red hot ever since. Atlanta outscored its last five opponents 19-3. But United will be missing one of its key playmakers against Philadelphia.

Midfielder Miguel Almiron suffered a hamstring injury in Sunday’s win over the Montreal Impact and is expected to miss a minimum of three weeks. That leaves United to finish the regular season without one of their biggest sparkplugs.

“Miguel is one of the most important players in the league,” defender Leandro González Pirez told the team’s website. “If he’s not able to play, then other guys are going to have to step up. Hopefully, we will be able to keep winning and keep moving up the table.”

Rookie Julian Gressel stepped into Almiron’s role Sunday and delivered an assist in United’s 2-0 win. He’ll be expected to do the same Wednesday.

“It is just playing the position, playing to my abilities and seeing what I can do,” Gressel told reporters. “It’s never easy and you don’t want to see that happen to teammates, but, if it’s me, then, obviously, I will try to be as good as I can and step into that role.”

Atlanta is looking to become the first expansion franchise to earn a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs in their inaugural season since the 2009 campaign. United could clinch a playoff berth Wednesday.

Philadelphia enters Wednesday’s match in ninth place on the Eastern Conference table and trails the sixth-place New York Red Bulls by six points.