The MLS game of the week features two teams trying to rise in the standings, but some firepower will not be on the field for one team.
LA Galaxy at Atlanta United, 5 p.m. ET, FOX
MLS free pick: Atlanta 2-1 (+825)
Atlanta United has been surging lately. Josef Martinez is coming on, Julian Gressel is playing terrific soccer and Atlanta is starting to get some production from Pity Martinez. Justin Meram has been keeping the attack together, while the back line has improved from earlier in the season. They will have the clear advantage on paper when they take the field against the Galaxy, but manager Frank de Boer will need to continue having his attack go forward with flair and not hunker back. When he opted to be hesitant on offense, teams would go at Atlanta, driving the team out of its comfort zone. Expect the players to push the issue Saturday night.
The Galaxy is entering this match one point out of second place in the Western Conference, but will have to compete Saturday without Zlatan Ibrahimović (yellow card accumulation), Efrain Alvarez and Diego Polenta (red card suspension). That could spell trouble for the Galaxy, who want to keep pace with surging teams like Seattle and San Jose. To defeat Atlanta the Galaxy will need something special from Jonathan dos Santos, and David Bingham will have to play the game of the season between the posts. LA is also going to need someone to step up and provide the scoring Ibrahimović normally provides. Who can be a hero?
This will be a big-time matchup that will have an early goal, but otherwise it will be a back-and-forth affair. The Galaxy will try to get points without Zlatan up front, but will come up short in the end. Atlanta will win 2-1 on a late Martinez winner (+220) to take the three points.
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