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Atlanta United-Los Angeles FC Preview
While Los Angeles FC looks to rebound from a rare defeat, Atlanta United FC aims to keep its current surge going by ending the longest road slide in club history.
Hoping to snap that five-game road losing streak, Atlanta tries for a third consecutive victory overall Friday night while also looking to send LAFC to a home defeat and back-to-back losses for the first time this season.
The first installment of the 2019 "El Trafico" last Friday night will certainly go down as a memorable one. LAFC star Carlos Vela scored off a penalty kick in the fourth minute and added another goal in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time. In between, however, Zlatan Ibrahimovic recorded a hat trick to help the Galaxy to a 3-2 home triumph.
For MLS-leading LAFC (14-3-4), it not only snapped a three-game league winning streak, but marked the first time in 2019 it conceded more than two goals in a match.
"We know it was a hard loss," Vela, who has a league-leading 21 goals, told LAFC's official website. "We're still in first. We have to keep that place. We have to forget (that) game and continue in our level. We have to keep pushing, keep working. There's no other way to be a good team."
LAFC has managed to win the next game following its previous two defeats this season. It also should feel good about returning home, where it owns a 26-7 goal advantage while going 8-0-1.
Atlanta (11-8-3), meanwhile, has been outscored 13-5 while losing five straight road games dating to a 1-0 victory at Vancouver on May 15. United, though, has built some momentum after beating Houston and D.C. by a combined 7-0 scoreline at home in the last two games to move up to second place in the Eastern Conference.
Still, Atlanta understands the challenge that awaits Friday.
"It's going to be a very difficult game, a complicated game, but we have what it takes to go out to win, and we have to do that," Atlanta midfielder Pity Martinez, who has a goal with three assists in the last four matches, told the official MLS website.
"Go out to win. Atlanta deserves that, and us as a group, as well. If we have the desire to be first in the conference, then we have to play to win on every field."
Atlanta's other Martinez, Josef, has scored 11 times during a seven-game streak. Martinez (16 goals in 2019) scored once and Julian Gressel had a goal with an assist in United's 5-0 home victory over LAFC last season.
Updated July 24, 2019