With 48 hours now passed since Atlanta United’s disappointing loss to the Houston Dynamo, the players have had some time to analyze what went wrong in their 2018 MLS opener.
“We’ve obviously trained well,” said midfielder Jeff Larentowicz. “We trained hard and we knew what was in front of us, but Houston brought it and we didn’t match it. It’s a harsh lesson but one we have to put behind us and get ready for the next game.”
That’s the message coming out of the locker room: a renewed focus and their eyes straight ahead, ready for redemption in their home debut. But they’re making sure not to make the same mistakes.
“Ultimately it’s a lesson learned for us, said midfielder Chris McCann. “We’re going to have to work on it hard this week, because there’s another tough game coming up for us. Hopefully we can look at the things we did wrong, then put it to bed and move on and try to get our first win as soon as possible at home to kick us off.”
“Mentally we’re back on track, working hard every day,” Brandon Vazquez added. “We have a pretty close group, so after our day off it was just back to being ourselves. No one was being negative. Back in training, everyone is giving their all and working. That’s what we’re here to do. The game’s in the past so we’re just looking forward to this weekend.”
While the team is certainly trying to learn lessons from their opening loss, they’re also keeping things in perspective. For a team that enjoyed plenty of success last year, one loss isn’t going to prompt massive change.
“We lost the first game last year and we went on to have a great season,” McCann says. “The manner of the defeat was disappointing to all of us, but we’ll lick our wounds and work hard this week to make it right.”
There’s plenty of motivation for the club this week. Not only are they look to rebound back into the win column, they’re also facing a D.C. United team that proved to be a tough nut to crack for Atlanta United last year.
“Last season they beat us three times so we’re dying to get one back over on them and take the three points,” McCann says. “With it being at home it’s going to be a sellout crowd which is going to be fantastic to come back home and have the supporters cheer us on.”
“It’s an eastern conference game at home,” Larentowicz pointed out. “Whether it’s the second week of the year or the end of the year, those games are always important. Whatever happened last year is in the past, they’re a different team and we’re a different team. But the Eastern Conference games are big games and we want to approach it that way.”
So rest assured the team is full of motivation as they look to bounce back and turn Mercedes-Benz Stadium into the fortress that it was in 2017.
“We always go out to every game like it’s a final, and I think this weekend will come out just the same,” Vazquez says. “Especially at home, our first game at home, it should be really special, so we’ll see what happens.”
Sunday’s match kicks off at 3 p.m. EST on Sunday from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Limited tickets are still available, so make sure you’ve reserved your spot for the team’s 2018 home opener here.