Last week, the Five Stripes edged the Columbus Crew 3-2, while the Black-and-Gold dropped their second straight fixture, losing 2-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes.
It has been a long time coming, but Atlanta were able to end a 12-match winless run last weekend, their first away win of the year, earning three points for the first time since May 15.
While serving as interim manager, Rob Valentino had been preaching to his side the importance of attacking early and often, and they were rewarded last Saturday, taking the lead in the fifth minute while showing a lot of resilience in the second half, after the Crew got on the scoreboard late in the first half.
Valentino allowed his team more freedom to attack than his predecessor, and they have responded in a big way lately with seven goals in their last three games.
Gonzalo Pineda is now in charge, with Valentino being relegated to assistant once again, as Pineda, a former Seattle Sounders assistant coach, will try to get this team back into a playoff position, currently sitting six points behind the Columbus Crew.
The Five Stripes have been much better at home than on the road, although they have struggled to find the back of the net, going goalless in their last three matches at Mercedes Benz Stadium despite firing 13 shots on target.
LA are still in a playoff position, but they have not done themselves any favours lately, going winless in their last five encounters.
Bob Bradley has to be frustrated with the lack of consistency shown by his team all year, especially given their talent level on paper.
All season long, they have been average at best, with some flashes of brilliance but at the moment, they look like a broken side, extremely discouraged with how the year has gone.
They score about as many goals as they concede with 24 goals for and 25 against, but the LA backline have looked particularly vulnerable on the road lately, conceding four goals in their last two games.
A side who led the league in goals scored in each of their previous two seasons have not made the most of their opportunities in 2021, firing 56 shots over their last three games but scoring only four times.
Ezequiel Barco notched a brace for Atlanta last weekend to help them end their lengthy winless skid and was named to the MLS Team of the Week, while Marcelino Moreno scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season in that victory.
Luiz Araujo could make his debut in this one after joining the Five Stripes as a Designated Player from Lille, the reigning Ligue 1 champions, and Josef Martinez missed their last match with a red card suspension.
Jesus Murillo replaced Marco Farfan in central defence versus the Quakes as Bradley went with a back four, moving Kim Moon-hwan up to midfield, with Francisco Ginella starting instead of Raheem Edwards.
Atlanta United possible starting lineup:
Guzan; Walkes, Franco, Campbell, Robinson; Bello, Sosa, Sejdic, Hernandez; Barco, Moreno
Los Angeles FC possible starting lineup:
Romero; Palacios, Blackmon, Murillo, Farfan; Crisostomo, Atuesta, Cifuentes; Rossi, Arango, Vela
We say: Atlanta United 2-1 Los Angeles FC
Atlanta have played a lot more to their capabilities recently and defeating the reigning MLS Cup champions could be just what they need to regain some of their confidence.
On the other hand, the confidence of LA has to be shattered, given their form lately, and they seem to struggle when playing teams near the bottom of the table, while they have also lost consecutive road fixtures.
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