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Atlanta looks to rev up offense at Sporting KC


The defending MLS champion Atlanta United are looking to get their offense moving as they enter Sunday night’s game at Sporting Kansas City.

Atlanta ranks last in the MLS with six goals, one season after producing a league-leading 70.

The Five Stripes (2-3-2, eight points) have won two of their past three matches despite the shortage of offense and hope to get the attack untracked in the contest at Children’s Mercy Park at Kansas City, Kan.

Star forward Josef Martinez set the MLS single-season mark with 31 goals last season. Through seven games this year, he has found the back of the net just twice.

Things have gone even worse for midfielder Pity Martinez, the prized acquisition of the offseason. The Argentine star hasn’t scored a single point and angrily displayed his displeasure when he was pulled in the 71st minute of a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids on April 27.

“I have no problem with that,” Atlanta coach Frank de Boer told reporters. “He wants to show more, and I think that’s a very good sign for every player that he’s (ticked) off that he got changed.”

Meanwhile, keeping opponents from scoring has been the problem for Sporting KC, who have allowed 11 goals during a 0-1-3 funk.

Sporting KC (2-2-4, 10 points) played to a 4-4 tie against the New England Revolution on April 27, the second straight game that they allowed four goals.

The club will be without defensive stalwart Matt Besler (hamstring) for the second straight match. He will likely miss another two to three weeks.

Offensively, forwards Krisztian Nemeth (six goals) and Johnny Russell (four), and midfielders Felipe Gutierrez (four) and Gianluca Busio (three) have combined to score 17 of Sporting KC’s 19 goals.

Sporting KC have been hit hard by injuries, with forward Gerso Fernandes (broken wrist) being the latest added to the list in the tie with New England.

The ailments have led to some juggling on the part of coach Peter Vermes.

“There is maybe one or two things along the way that cause you not to (have success), and that’s the tough thing about the profession,” Vermes told reporters. “You always have a lot of variables that are against you, not for you. That’s where the difficulty is.”

–Field Level Media

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