Memphis, Tenn. – Coming off of a dominant 3-0 victory on Saturday, Memphis 901 FC will continue their stretch of three matches in seven days with two of the toughest tests of the season so far against MLS club Atlanta United and 2022 USL Championship finalists Louisville City FC.
The Beale St. Boys have had Wednesday, April 26 circled on their calendars as the marquee matchup of the early season since the announcement of third round draw.
Memphis have hit their stride at the perfect time for the fixture, carrying a four-match unbeaten streak and feeling the momentum of a convincing 3-0 road victory at Rio Grande Valley FC last time out.
Wednesday’s match will be the first time 901 FC has faced an MLS opponent since the 2019 Open Cup, but the confines of Fifth Third Bank Stadium won’t be unfamiliar. Head Coach Stephen Glass along with Phillip Goodrum, Luiz Fernando and Laurent Kissiedou will return to the Peach State as former members of the Atlanta United organization.
Glass served on the Atlanta United FC coaching staff from 2018-2021 starting as an academy coach and moved up to second team manager before being handed the keys to the first team in the 2020 season. The 901 FC manager said his players returning to face their old club can give the side an extra jolt on the field.
“I don’t think they ever need extra motivation, but I do think they’re the type of players to take it that way,” he said. “They use anything they can to fuel the determination to win a game every week. They might find a little bit extra this week.”
Forward Phillip Goodrum played two seasons in the Atlanta organization becoming the front man for the dangerous 901 FC attack, setting the single-season club record with 22 goals during the 2022 campaign.
“I was buzzing,” the Nashville native said. “A lot of the guys wanted the Tennessee derby, to play Nashville away, but I think I was one of the few who was just itching to go to Atlanta. Initial reaction, I was through the roof. It gives us a great opportunity to go test ourselves.
“It’ll be familiar. It’s good to go back into a locker room I’ve been in before and a stadium and environment I’ve been in before. I think they’ll have a pretty good crowd, and I’m playing against my buddies, old teammates. It’s going to be a good test but it’s going to be fun.”
Unbeaten in their last four matches and hitting their stride, Memphis will travel a squad that’s looking to cement their identity as a relentless attacking side with multiple ways to put pressure on back lines and score goals. After seven weeks, 901 FC ranks first in the league in final third entries and second in overall possession.
Coach Glass and his squad hope the dominant performance last time out can serve as a catalyst for a club looking to make noise on the road. Memphis is unbeaten on the road in 2023 with a +4 goal differential across all competitions.
“Anytime you go to a bigger club in a cup competition, you’ve got to show you’re not unnerved, show you can handle it and show you’re not overwhelmed by your surroundings,” Glass said. “The fact we’re playing at Kennesaw rather than (Mercedes-Benz Stadium), we’re not tourists looking at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, we’re at Kennesaw.
“We’ve played there before and some of the lads are very much at home there. I think you go there, stay in the game and show you can handle playing in that environment on that occasion. You never know what can happen.”
For Glass, Goodrum and the rest of the 901 FC squad, they hope it’s history that happens, becoming the latest second division club to take out a top MLS side in the longest running national soccer tournament on U.S. soil.
“I’m looking forward to showcase what I can do against some of the top talent in the country,” Goodrum said. “These are the environments you want to be in. It’s why you’re a professional footballer. If you can’t play in this kind of hectic and exciting environment, you shouldn’t be in the game, so I’m excited.”
The match will be available for streaming live on the B/R Football Youtube Channel. Memphis 901 FC returns to AutoZone Park to host Louisville City FC on Saturday, April 29 at 7 p.m. CT