BDS: Atlanta is opening up a shiny, new stadium this weekend. What are the emotions like going into this game for the team and the fans? And how do you see this team transitioning from normally playing on grass to turf?
DSS: The emotions are high because Atlanta supporters understand the importance of this six-match home stretch. If we can get a string of good results, our playoff hopes are looking pretty good. We've played well at home this season, but everyone is just hoping that form can carry over into another home stadium. I shutter at the thought of Tottenham's horrible transition into playing at Wembley. I'm hoping that's not the case for Atlanta as well.
As for the turf, that's been a bit of a hot topic here. According to multiple reports from people who walked on the field before college football games that Mercedes-Benz Stadium has hosted, the turf hasn't been great when it comes to footing. Now granted, football is a different sport than soccer. However, there are similarities with the footing and kicking. I'm very curious to see how it holds up.
BDS: Atlanta has a busy stretch of games coming up starting with this one on Sunday. Is this team well equipped enough to handle the heavy slate? Is there a concern that it could weaken the team's playoff chances?
DSS: Throughout the season, we've learned that Tata Martino isn't a coach that tends to rest players when multiple matches are played in a week. He's been very consistent with the lineups. Now we haven't had a stretch of matches like this, so I'm curious to see if Martino is almost obligated to rest certain guys like Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst, and Hector Villalba who have started every match this season.
There is a concern with this schedule because 8 matches in 23 days is almost unheard of in soccer. That's basketball-esque. We'll just have to see how Martino tests the depth of this club, and how the players hold up.
BDS: Dallas fans may not know a ton about some of the players on the team. Give us a few guys that we need to keep an eye out for come Sunday.
DSS: Miguel Almiron. At one point he was linked to Arsenal and Chelsea while playing for Argentinian club Lanus. Obviously, the quality is there and watching him play is awe-inspiring at times. However, he's run into a bit of poor form the past few matches against these teams that like to sit back and defend rather than attack as well. Almiron needs room to operate, and he hasn't really been able to break down strong defenses. Hopefully he can figure it out soon, because Atlanta needs him to.
Josef Martinez. When in form, one of the best strikers in MLS. But similarly to Almiron, Martinez has also been in a rut since returning from injury, and that also stems from his inability to make things happen in the box when there are multiple defenders around him. It seems like clubs are slowly starting to figure out how to shut down Atlanta's key players, and that's concerning.
Greg Garza. He puts a smile on my face every time this left back overlaps Yamil Asad on the wing. Garza gets into attacking positions so often for a defender, and it's incredibly fun to watch. He's punching way above his weight in MLS and I absolutely think he should be featured more often with the USMNT.