While much of the focus outside of the club remains on the past match, the focus inside the locker room is turned fully forward this week.
“We’ve moved past Houston,” Michael Parkhurst told reporters after training Wednesday. “We were obviously disappointed and the message was it wasn’t good enough and we need to raise our level of play in all facets of the game. But it’s one game. It’s a good lesson for us but we’ve moved on.”
“I think everybody shook it off really well,” Kevin Kratz added, “especially that we had two days where we could figure out what happened. Now it’s back into game mode. Nobody wants these games to happen, but it’s good that it happens early in the season. Now everybody knows, ok, we have to fight first and then play our style and that’s the way we can be successful.”
And the team is keeping things in perspective. While everyone in the locker room is disappointed with how the first match went, they’re not going to toss what was a very successful style for the first year out the window.
“I think everyone understands that one game in is not time to panic or anything like that,” Parkhurst said. “What happened on Saturday we think we can fix pretty easily by being more prepared, more aggressive and mentally focused for the game.”
That’s what the team is doing now: regaining their focus. Before they turn their attention to their next opponent, they’re taking stock of everything from the first weekend to make sure they’ve got it right on their side of the ball.
“After a poor performance, you want to get your rhythm and performance right first before focusing on the other team,” Julian Gressel said. “I think if we are at our best, we’re very tough to beat, so the focus has been on us. Obviously later in the week we’ll get more into them and what we have to do on the day to get the advantage on the field against them. But it’s our performance and our quality that needs to show and come out.”
While they’re not dissecting their opponent yet, that doesn’t mean they’re not looking forward to the next match, and particularly the roar of the Five Stripes nation at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“It’s always important to play in front of our home fans,” Gressel said. “The way they were last year and how they will be this year helps us a tremendous amount. It intimidates other teams and it helps us, it gives us a push when we need it and pushes us a little further than we think we can go.”
“It’s been a while and we miss that atmosphere,” Parkhurst added. “It’s really an energy boost. You can feel the passion, you can feel the love. We need them this weekend to push us and hopefully we can give them a lot of things to cheer for.”
And after last year when D.C. proved to be a bogey team for Atlanta United, Parkhurst says there will be a little extra on the line for the squad this weekend.
“We don’t need any extra motivation against D.C.”
Kickoff is set for 3:00 p.m. EST Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Make sure you’re there to welcome the team home by securing your ticket here.