There’s not getting around it: Sunday was a tough night in the Atlanta United locker room. The team has been open about their high expectations for the season, so the players weren’t making excuses after falling short of silverware in the final match.
“Shocking,” added Brad Guzan. “Today was not what we expect from ourselves.”
“It was very disappointing,” added Michael Parkhurst. “The Supporters Shield was a big goal of ours. We haven’t been quiet about that. We wanted to go out there and win it for a long time now. We put ourselves in a good position to do that but we just didn’t show up today when it was the biggest game.”
Despite the disappointment in the final match, the players realize the importance of getting back on track quickly. They said it’s important to not brush this result aside, but analyze it to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But then it’s time to regain focus, with the a chance at redemption in the MLS Cup Playoffs coming up in just a few days’ time.
“We have to look at this and take a hard look in the mirror and find a way to make sure that this doesn’t happen come next Sunday,” Guzan said.
So how do you put this disappointment behind you to regroup for a postseason run?
“[Having a week to regroup] is huge,” Guzan added. “Every day, mentally, physically, it’s huge. We have to find a way. Luckily for us we have a few days to get things sorted and look back at this game and make sure this doesn’t happen because you can’t go into the first leg of a playoff game and concede four goals. You don’t give yourself a fighting chance to go back home and play for the home leg. We got to figure it out.
“Something new is starting,” said head coach Tata Martino, through a translator. “It has nothing to do with the regular season and what ended today. This season, putting aside the game tonight, we did very well but now we have to focus on the playoffs. We have to try to make sure that what took place in the last 90 minutes doesn’t have an effect on our performance.”
It's not an easy task, but it’s an important one. Atlanta United can take comfort in the fact that the team hasn’t lost back-to-back matches all season long. So while this result stings, it’s time to pick themselves back up like they've done all year for a shot at redemption.
“We need to digest this one,” Parkhurst said. “It’s a tough one. It will take a day or two but the season is not lost. We have another cup to play for. We missed out on a couple this year but the biggest one is in front of us. We have a first round bye and we know we are guaranteed two more games so that’s an opportunity to correct it.”