180304_Parkhurst_HoustonReax

ATL UTD turning page, looking to get back on track in home debut

After Atlanta United’s opening day loss to Houston, the players took full accountability for what was a disappointing display.

“We were second-best on the day in every department and every 50-50 ball,” said Michael Parkhurst. “When you do that on the road against a very good team, that’s what happens.”

“You can’t really start any worse, to be honest with you,” Julian Gressel added. “The good thing is it can only get better.”

That sums up the mood in the Atlanta United camp: holding themselves accountable, recognizing the mistakes, but also looking ahead.

“I think you just have to turn the page,” Greg Garza said. “None of us expected that, with the amount of work that we put in during the preseason. But I think in your career – in my career, especially – we all have one of those games that you kind of just want to forget and turn the page, and today is one of those days.”

That all starts with the first day of training this week. Head Coach Tata Martino says he’s identified issues that need to be fixed for the next match.

“I think that what we need to work on is in our possession,” he told reporters through a translator after the match. “First, we have to be better in our attack as we control the ball and not to lose the ball due to our bad decisions. Secondly, we have to control the opponent. Usually you get scored on on set pieces because of your mistakes.”

Despite the disappointment, there were positives. Atlanta United created chances going forward, even if they couldn’t quite connect with the finish. And more importantly: a different team may have collapsed after that first half, but the red, black and gold kept up the fight.

“Coming into halftime, it’s tough. You’re down four-nil, you can kind of stop as a team, you can just throw everything forward or completely stop competing. I don’t think we did that," said Gressel. "I think we kind of found a way to stay together and not completely fall apart, especially at halftime, and we have to build on that.”

And while the loss stings, the team is keeping it in perspective. With 33 games still left to play this season, they’re determined to regain their focus quickly to turn things around in front of their home fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“One of these games usually happens at some time during the season, and hopefully our game was today,” Garza said. “We have to be a group now to pick up our heads and have the confidence to go out and win for the people of Atlanta this week.”

The squad now returns to Atlanta for a hard week of training before making their home debut at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against D.C. United on March 11th. Tickets are still available, so make sure you’re there to roar the team on by reserving your spot here.

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