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Tata Martino: We are excited to be home

Takeaways from Friday’s training session.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Atlanta United FC
Atlanta United will play their first home this Sunday since March 18.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United trained on Friday morning leading up to their matchup against D.C. United at home on Sunday.

When talking about last week’s match, manager Tata Martino stated that he liked the effectiveness the team had against Real Salt Lake and that they were very decisive in the attack.

“Our biggest opportunity would be that we didn’t control the ball as much during the 90 minutes like I wanted us to,” Martino said.

Martino also praised the performances from Carlos Carmona and Jeff Larentowicz from the last two games.

“(Carmona) does a good job of playing defensive wing whenever he has to and he complements Larentowicz when they both play together,” Martino said. “When we want to have more of an attacking midfield, we’ll pair one of those guys with (Julian) Gressel. When we want to be more balanced, it’s good to have Larentowicz and Carmona at the same time. We’re looking at different alternatives that makes us better and that’s why we keep alternating.”

Captain Michael Parkhurst also complemented Carmona by stating that he does a lot of the dirty work for the team.

“He’s aggressive, especially in his tackling,” Parkhurst said. “He creates fear in the opponent’s attacking midfielders, which is important for us. He plays simple and that’s what we need him to do. He’s a vital piece of the team.”

When looking forward to the matchup this Sunday, Martino said that they have focused on defending set pieces and looking for ways to contain Luciano Acosta.

“D.C. is a team that likes to put pressure up top, just like New York (Red Bulls),” Martino said. “They are a team that puts many players in the attack going forward, but creates a defensive mismatch for them, so we could take advantage of that.”

“(Acosta) is the player who controls the field from midfield and up. He usually creates the offensive plays for them and he can finish them as well. He didn’t play the last game but we think he’ll play against us.”

Parkhurst also said that they haven’t faced a team that mainly focuses on counter-attacks and set pieces, but they will be ready for it.

“They’re a veteran, physical team,” Parkhurst said. “They bring a lot of people up so we have to be ready, even when we clear it. (Acosta) is a difference maker on the field.”

Despite scoring four goals and adding two assists in seven games, Tito Villalba said that he doesn’t have a favorite moment with Atlanta United yet.

“I don’t have one, I think I can do more,” Villalba said. “As a team, to have the ball for longer stretches of the game. For me, to take more advantage of my speed and score more than one goal per game.”

When looking back at the four-game road trip for Atlanta, Martino said that the biggest thing that he took away is that he learned that the team is in good conditions to come out and play with the same style whether it’s at home or away.

After having last played at home on March 18, Martino and the squad are ready to come out and play in front of the home fans for just the third time this season.

“We are excited to be home,” Martino said. “We know what expectations people have from us and we know the game is sold out. We’re obligated to play a good game, let the people enjoy it and for us to come out and win.”