By Atlanta United’s high standards so far in their history, it’s been a tough few weeks in the win/loss column. With one win in their last four matches, it’s tempting to think drastic changes should be coming to the squad. But ironically, the best thing to do may be to change nothing with their strategy at all.
“As long as we keep playing second halves like we played tonight, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about,” Tata Martino told reporters through a translator after the game. That may seem at odds with a disappointing result, and it’s not to say the team can’t improve. But it’s a sentiment that was shared by the players as well.
“We just weren’t clinical enough tonight,” said Captain Michael Parkhurst. “We gave them one chance. I thought defensively we played really well. We really limited their chances. Offensively, we created some great chances and their keeper made some great saves.”
The team is doing a lot of things right all over the field. They’re playing solid defense, limiting opponents to half chances outside of the box. They’re creating chance after chance on the attacking half of the field. And for a team that ranked near the top in goals scored last year –– and with the Golden Boot leader leading the line –– they’re confident their finishing woes will turn around.
“We have full confidence in those guys,” Parkhurst added. “[Ezequiel] Barco, [Miguel] Almirón and [Josef] Martinez, these guys are going to score on those chances. It didn’t happen tonight, but if it gets back to the mean, that means that they’re going to score the next one. It’s good that we’re at least creating chances.”
“The season is long, the games even out,” midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. “You have your ups, you have your downs. You have games that you win that you probably shouldn’t have, you have games that you lose that you probably should’ve won. If that’s one of those games tonight, then so be it. Again, like I said, we defended well as a team, we created chances, we did enough to win, but we just didn’t do it.”
That’s the feeling in the Atlanta United locker room: disappointed in the result, but with perspective and eyes on the bigger picture. Because they know the play on both sides of the ball is there, and at some point, their skill in the attacking third will shine through in the goals column.
“We create the chances,” Larentowicz said. “If you’re not creating chances then it’s frustrating and if you tie the game and then you think maybe we didn’t deserve that. But we were creating chances, we were putting them under pressure. I thought we defended well as a team, penalty aside. I thought as a team we did well. But it’s a draw.”
“In the second half, I thought we played well,” Martino said. “We created a lot of chances that our guys usually convert and I thought at that point we did deserve to win.”
So while the result on Wednesday stings, the team knows they’re doing a lot of things right. And with a hectic schedule on the horizon, there’s no time to dwell on an ultimate disappointing result.
“We put it behind us,” Parkhurst said. “It’s a tough one. It’s a tie that feels like a loss… but we come back home and we’ve got another Eastern Conference game on Saturday. I think we came out of this with no injuries, so that’s good. We shouldn’t have any suspensions for next week. We’ll be as full strength as we can be. We need to make sure we get a win at home. It’s been two straight games now where we haven’t done that, so we need to right that ship.”
The team will look to get back to their dominant best this weekend as they host the Philadelphia Union at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this Saturday. Tickets to that match are still available, so make sure you’ve reserved yours here.