Atlanta United gearing up for second round with Orlando City
Rivalries aren't created because one says so.
Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan expressed those exact words when pressed again about Orlando City SC. The common denominator is that rivalries obviously take time to develop and moreover, they take time to fester into one of passion and intensity.
Perhaps last Friday's 1-0 win by Atlanta in Orlando City Stadium is a start to something unique, but for now, the story between these two teams is far from over.
Orlando City presents a different look for Saturday's second meeting at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium. For starters, Orlando's leading goal scorer Cyle Larin will be available for a full 90 minutes (he was a subbed late last week after returning from Gold Cup duty for Canada).
Better yet, Orlando added forward Dom Dwyer via a record $1.6 million trade, from Sporting Kansas City. Dwyer collected five goals for Sporting KC, which was one shy of Gerso Fernandes' team lead. Now, he has potential to create a dynamic pairing with with Larin.
"(Dwyer's) a good player," Guzan said. "We need to make sure we're aware of his positioning and his whereabouts on the field as the game goes on."
What Dwyer and Larin can do together remains to be seen, but Atlanta's defensive will be on alert, and Guzan has already proven he's prepared for the challenge. The keeper obtained a clean sheet in the recent 1-0 victory over Orlando.
Guzan has familiarity with Dwyer, both of whom have been on the U.S. men's national soccer team. It remains to be seen if that will prove to be beneficial, but Guzan's main concern, as he stated, is just keeping the ball out of the back of the net.
The last time out, forward Héctor Villalba delivered the lone goal, a long-range 86th-minute blast, and he and Atlanta United are expecting a similarly tight match, despite Orlando having its best player and a heralded new addition.
“They’re a tough team, Villalba said. "I think you can see from the game, it was a slim margin.”
The two teams will meet for a third time on Sept. 16, and for Atlanta United this second meeting provides a change to get further bragging rights in this budding rivalry.
"Obviously, going down there and getting three points is going to make Saturday that much more special," Guzan said. "These are the games you want to be a part of as a player."