Atlanta United’s run over the past month and a half has been nothing short of sensational, with their seven-match unbeaten streak lifting them right to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. While the players are happy with how things have gone so far, their feet are firmly on the ground as they prepare for their next match.
“We have to put everything on the table again,” said last week’s super sub Kevin Kratz. “That’s what we think we do very well now is we take one game at a time. We had a successful time, but now it’s the next game. There’s nothing in the past, now it’s just looking forward to that next game.”
There’s no time to dwell on the past with the Five Stripes’ upcoming schedule – three tough matches coming up in an eight-day span, including two on the road and a home matchup against the Western Conference leaders. But the players say they’re prepared for this, and the depth that has stepped up this season so far will be crucial once again.
“[Depth] is something we have developed more this year in the first eight games than maybe we did at all last year,” said midfielder Jeff Larentowicz. “These are the weeks where it really counts and those guys, whoever it is, have to be ready to get their name called. Then if you win that first game or you play well and get a result, I think you can build throughout the week.”
But the players preach time and time again that they take the season one game at a time. Next up is a trip to the Windy City to face the Chicago Fire and a legend of the game in Bastian Schweinsteiger, a key threat Atlanta United will have to address.
“He’s an exceptional passer,” Larentowicz added. “I think if we can put him under pressure then that could eliminate the time he has on the ball the ability he can make a good pass.”
“Those guys who have made a name for themselves in the game can change the game if you give them the opportunity,” Greg Garza said. “As long as we can keep him under control, I think we can build off of that and create a lot more chances.”
But like a few weeks ago against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy, the players are aware that while they have a star to shut down, there are plenty of other players that can hurt you –– including reigning Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic.
“They have good players, they have the league’s top scorer,” defender Leandro González Pirez said. “They have good players in attack that we have to pay attention to because they are dangerous and they can hurt us.”
But the mood in the locker room is confident, with Greg Garza putting it most succinctly, saying, “We’re just concentrated on keeping this high tide rolling.”
Saturday’s match kicks off at 8:30 p.m. ET, and you can catch all the action on FOX Sports Southeast. The team will return to Atlanta on Sunday as they prepare to host the Western Conference leaders, Sporting Kansas City, on Wednesday. Tickets to that match are still available, make sure you’ve gotten yours here.