Brooks Lennon, Brad Guzan on "commitment to competing" and moving forward under interim coach Rob Valentino

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Atlanta United is looking to right the ship as they begin the second half of the 2024 season. A rough form of MLS play has the 5-Stripes with a record of 4-4-8.

They managed to deliver a strong performance against Inter Miami FC on Wednesday, May 29, beating Lionel Messi’s team 3-1 at Chase Stadium. Momentum carried over to their next home match against Charlotte FC in the first half, but they eventually fell to their regional rival 3-2.

Coming off a week long break with several players being called up for international play, as well as Rob Valentino being named interim head coach, Atlanta United is back at work as they hope to get three points against Houston Dynamo FC this Saturday.

After practice at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground on Tuesday, defender Brooks Lennon and goalkeeper Brad Guzan spoke to local media about simplifying the message, Valentino’s message going forward, and the mentality of the team.

Brooks Lennon

For defender Brooks Lennon, lack of accountability is never an option. With half of the 2024 season in the books, and the 5-Stripes still searching for better results, he says that the lack of production is not one person's fault. More that "everyone has to look at themselves in the mirror and understand they are doing well and what they can improve on".

The week off was a reflection period, and now under the new guidance and voice of Valentino, the club hopes to turn around their season around.

“Rob (Valentino) has been here since the beginning. Since the time I arrived at the club, he has been a part of every single coach staff and changed that I have been through,” said Lennon. “Rob is a very mature manager. He knows MLS, he played in it. I think he is just trying to keep the message simple. Not trying to overcomplicate things."

It times where the results may not match the process, it is easy to want to completely overhall things. In his media availbility on Friday of last week, Valentino preached the importance of simplicity. It is a team wide message trickling down from the coach to each player.

"When you are in a tough moment like this, it is time to go back to the drawing board and simplify things. Try to focus on specific messages that this coaching staff is trying to get across, and doing it at the best of your ability. I think that is going to lead to three points on Saturday."

In order to get those needed three points, Lennon says that it is imperative for Atlanta to not only continue finding scoring chances but actually put the opportunities in the back of the net.

Brad Guzan

As not only an MLS veteran, but an integral member of the 5-Stripes since its inception, Brad Guzan has seen and done it all. He, like Valentino, has been here since the beginning. When asked about key elements that Valentino brings as a coach, Guzan praised his ability to get messages through to the players.

“His ability to communicate with guys,” said Guzan when asked about what Valentino does well. “Whether it is Americans or the foreign guys and handling different languages. He puts himself out there in terms of making it a point to connect with guys on a deeper level.”

The stretch of play for the 5-Stripes was a busy one with the club having nine MLS matches in their last 31 days. And it the fast pace is not slowing down anytime soon. Including the match against Houston, they will have six matches in the next 21 days.

Guzan says that the best way to get positive results is starting with the correct mentality.

“The attitude needs to be a professional one,” said Guzan. “The attitude needs to be a commitment and desire to go and compete for 90 plus minutes. Whether we make mistakes or not, it is how we react from those mistakes. How do we bounce back and support each other. How do we make teams feel the aura around our team. We need to be able to bring that for 90 plus minutes every single game.”

Atlanta United will look to execute everything Valentino has implemented against Houston. Fans not attending the match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium can catch the 7:30 p.m. kickoff and all the action on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. As well as listening on local radio 92.9 The Game and La Mejor.

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