Although Philadelphia Union’s underwhelming start to the MLS season is fresh on the minds of many, Concacaf Champions League is back tonight. With the Champions League being the clear priority for this Union side, I dug deep to get to know their Quarterfinal opponents, Atlas FC.
The Guadalajara club was founded over a century ago and named after Atlas, a Titan from Greek mythology. Despite this formidable branding, the club failed to win a trophy for their first three decades of play. Atlas finally succeeded in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, winning its entire silverware collection between 1945 and 1968. Atlas then faced a half-century with nothing but a pair of second-division titles, the most recent of which still being 45 years ago. Finally, in the 2021/22 season, Atlas became only the third Mexican team to win back-to-back titles, clinching their second and third league championships.
Atlas followed their consecutive Mexican titles with a horrendous 2022 Apertura campaign, finishing 17th of 18 clubs. Atlas managed 13 points from 17 games in this disastrous season, winning three times. Atlas has won just 5 of 30 matches between the last two Mexican seasons. Atlas’ poor form carried over into the current season, as Atlas currently sits 12th in the Liga MX Clausura through 13 matches. However, Atlas has begun to find form in recent games, coming from a 4-0 win over Puebla and a heated 3-3 draw against bitter rivals Chivas last weekend.
In Concacaf Champions League, Atlas began the competition with a horrific 4-1 loss to CD Olimpia in Honduras. Despite being set to crash out in the competition’s opening round, Atlas demolished Olimpia 4-0 at home in the return leg to win the tie 5-4.
A large part of Los Rojinegros’ revival in recent weeks has been thanks to Colombian Forward Julian Quinones, who leads Atlas’ attack with nine goals and two assists in all competitions this season. Benjamin Mora’s side line up in a flexible formation that shifts between a 5-3-2 and 3-5-2 in various situations. The likely absence of Kai Wagner will undoubtedly be displayed as Atlas looks to control the ball out wide and attack from the flanks. Atlas is certainly a team that can score at will but has shown serious defensive struggles in the past year.
A star-studded Union attack will undoubtedly be looking to regain form tonight. The first leg of this Quarterfinal will take place tonight at Subaru Park, while the return leg will see the Union travel to the infamous Estadio Jalisco on Wednesday, April 12. The winner of this tie will face either LAFC or Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a Semifinal later this month.