New York City FC start their 2023 Leagues Cup campaign on Sunday, July 23, with a home matchup against Atlas FC — a side that NYCFC defeated to win the Campeones Cup in 2022. In this edition of Oppo Research, we look at an Atlas that lost their leading goal-scorer to Club América, but that could still hurt NYCFC.
1. Atlas lost their No 9 today
Atlas striker Julio Furch reportedly joined Brazil’s Santos FC today. No official announcement was made as of the publication of this post, but the deal looks to be all but formalized. His departure further depletes a squad that still haven’t recovered from losing their talisman in the offseason. (See below.)
2. Atlas lost their best player in the off-season
Julian Quinones, who finished the 2022/23 season with 17 goals for Atlas, signed with Liga MX giants Club América in the offseason. That’s bad news for Atlas: Quinones was the one vital piece in a lackluster offense. Since the departure for a reported $9 million fee, Atlas looked to Furch and new signing Mateo Garcia to become a regular scoring threat. It looks like it’s not going to happen with Furch (see above), and it’s too early to tell if Garcia will fill the shoes of Quinones.
That lack of FireWire up front goes a long way to explain why Atlas have scored only two goals in the three games Liuga MX have played this season, and why the club have been held scoreless twice.
3. The goalkeeper is good
Colombian goalkeeper Camilo Vargas has been solid between the posts for Atlas. Vargas already has two clean sheets in three games, and is averaging 2.3 saves per game. His impressive save rate of 87.5% is the third-highest in the league.
4. Brian Lozano is a threat in attack
Uruguayan winger Brian Lozano is the rare bright spark in an otherwise dismal attack. Lozano scored six goals in 12 games last season by using his pace and dribbling to beat defenders. Lozano has yet to score this season, but he did register an assist in the 2-0 win over Cruz Azul.
To earn that assist, Lozano turned to create space for himself and played a ball in behind to Eduardo Aguirre. Lozano leads Atlas in big chances created and shots on target per 90 minutes. NYCFC will have their hands fulll.
5. They’re physical (ie, they foul a lot)
The game between NYCFC and Atlas in 2022 was a gritty one. NYCFC committed 25 fouls and received three yellow cards, while Atlas committed 20 fouls and received two yellow cards. Surprisingly, no red cards were shown.
In this season’s three Liga MX games, Atlas have committed 35 fouls resulting in seven yellow cards and one red card. While that number isn’t as impressive as the ones above, you can expect a physical battle between NYCFC and Atlas once again this Sunday.