Record crowd expected to see Atlanta host Orlando City (Sep 16, 2017)
The Atlanta United are thriving on their new pitch at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
United have opened their new home with back-to-back shutout wins, highlighted by Wednesday's 7-0 rout of the New England Revolution. Now, they get a shot at Orlando City SC on Saturday in what's expected to be a record-setting crowd in Atlanta.
United announced late Thursday that they had sold 69,256 tickets to the match against Orlando City, breaking the MLS record for tickets sold to a single match.
It's safe to say, it'll be raucous when the Five Stripes hit the pitch, looking for their third straight win and a chance to move up the Eastern Conference table.
United (12-8-6) enter the weekend in fifth place with 42 points. They're looking to be the first expansion franchise to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs in their inaugural season since 2009.
"We're playing really well at home," said Atlanta forward Josef Martinez, who had a hat trick in the first half of the win over New England. "We're making it hard to play here. We need to continue on this path, and we'll do well."
The visiting Lions are coming off a 2-1 road win over DC United, but arrive in Atlanta with dwindling playoff hopes. Orlando City (9-12-7) is in ninth place on the Eastern Conference table, seven points behind the New York Red Bulls for the sixth playoff spot.
"We're excited," Orlando City coach Jason Kreis told reporters Thursday "It's obviously a fantastic stadium, with a fantastic atmosphere. And who wouldn't want to play in that sort of arena? I think our guys are really excited with the opportunity. We feel like we match up well with them."
This will be third regular-season meeting between the two teams. Atlanta's Hector Villalba scored an equalizer in stoppage time of a 1-1 draw with Orlando City on July 29. Atlanta beat the Lions 1-0 in Orlando on July 5.
Overall, Atlanta is unbeaten in its last nine matches, dating back to its time playing at Bobby Dodd Stadium on the campus of Georgia Tech.
United will be short-handed on Saturday, with starting fullback Greg Garza and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez both having been ruled out. Garza has a hamstring injury, and Gonzalez Pirez is suspended due to yellow card accumulation.