Southern Rivalry of Orlando and Atlanta Kicks Off MLS Weekend

The MLS weekend kicks off in style on Friday night when two budding rivals meet. Orlando City SC is set to make the journey to Georgia to take on Atlanta United FC. The Lions notched a 3-2 win over Atlanta in late July but will now hit the road to take on the Five Stripes at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

According to BetUS, Atlanta will be favored at home with a moneyline of +115, while Orlando’s moneyline is listed at +225. For a draw, the moneyline is set at +265. There is also an over/under of 2.5 total goals in this match.

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Where Do They Stand?

Technically, Orlando City SC is tied for second place in the Eastern Conference. However, it’s a distant second place, as the Lions are 14 points behind first-place New England. On the bright side, Orlando enters the weekend with an 11-point cushion when it comes to securing a playoff spot.

As for Atlanta, the Five Stripes are a little further down the table. Atlanta currently sits ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, putting them on the outside of the playoffs if the season ended today. But all hope is not lost, as Atlanta is just three points behind DC United, who currently holds the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Lion’s Roar

As you’d expect from a team that sits in second place, Orlando City has been on a roll lately, going seven straight matches in MLS play without a loss. Even with leading-scorer Nani experiencing a scoring drought lately, the Lions put three goals past Columbus last weekend and are still finding ways to get results. With Daryl Dike returning from injury recently, the Orlando City attack has received a nice bump, with Dike scoring the first goal in last week’s win over Columbus.

However, there is some concern about the Orlando defense, specifically between the goalposts. Starting goalie Pedro Gallese won’t be back from international duty in time to play on Friday while backup Mason Stajduhar is out with an injury, forcing the Lions to go with their third-string goalie. That changes the equation for a team that’s been otherwise solid, conceding just 26 goals in 22 matches.

Just a Bump in the Road

Last time out, Atlanta United FC suffered a disappointing 2-0 loss at the hands of Nashville. However, head coach Gonzalo Pineda will be hopeful that the loss is just a bump in the road after Atlanta had gone five straight matches without a loss. The hope for the Five Stripes is that they’ll be able to quickly regain the momentum they had previously despite a long layoff between matches.

Outside of the loss to Nashville, Atlanta United is surely moving in the right direction. However, the likes of Miles Robinson, George Bello, Josef Martinez, and others are all set to miss Friday’s game because of international duty. While the Five Stripes have the depth to cover for some of their missing players, that’s a lot of star power that Atlanta will be missing while trying to avoid a second straight defeat.

In the City

While Atlanta can be tough at home, they are missing too many pieces, especially with Robinson and Bello missing from the backline. That’s a problem with Dike back for Orlando, and Nani always poised to strike. With Orlando the underdog on the road in this match, there’s too much value not to pick the Lions to win.

However, given Orlando’s defensive questions and the fact that they gave up two goals last week, the over on 2.5 goals is the smart pick. Keep in mind, these teams combined for five goals when they met in late July, so combining for at least three on Friday night should be no problem.

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