Atlanta United’s 4-0 loss to Houston was still at the top of everyone’s mind Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium at the team looks to rebound this weekend with it’s first home match of the season.
“It feels good to be back in this place. Hopefully the 70,000+ people can move us on to a big win that we very much need on Sunday and we’re all excited to be back here,” said left back Greg Garza after the team’s training session. “It’s something that happens to us professionals not very often, but you usually go through once or twice in your career. This is a chance to turn the page and completely forget about that, work on our mistakes this week, and hopefully get a very good result on Sunday.”
Tata Martino spoke to the press about the need for the team to perform better both individually and collectively. He says the team has simply been punished for errors that his players typically don’t commit — both when it comes to conceding goals but also referencing the chances his players failed to capitalize on in Houston.
“Speaking about Miguel, considering the result, maybe it’s fair to say that it wasn’t the best decision to put him [wide],” Martino admitted. “But at the same time, he missed a couple chances that he could’ve scored, and if he converted on some of those chances, then we could be saying something different.”
Martino added that he didn’t think the midfield trio of Julian Gressel, Darlington Nagbe and Chris McCann recovered the ball in midfield as well as he would’ve liked. Martino explained that Nagbe is still settling into a new position in the team where, as a central midfielder, he isn’t very defensive player. The team is clearly still adjusting to work to fit him into the team from a tactical perspective, and the group trained in several different formations Friday including a 3-5-2 and a 4-2-3-1. Martino said he’s confident in the team performing with a back three and alluded to the benefits of being able to switch between various systems based on the opponent.
The other major storyline with D.C. United coming to town is the return of on of Atlanta’s top performers last year in Yamil Asad.
“It sucks going against him, that’s for sure,” said Garza, who formed a great partnership with the Argentine last year on the left side of the pitch. “I’m sure he has in his mindset that he’s going to try twice as hard against us. But as I said, we have to turn the page from last year. Myself and him created a wonderful relationship on and off the field, but this is 2018 and we have to find new chemistry with the guys that we have and hopefully it’ll be for the best.”
While everyone -- from players, to staff, to team personnel — are all still cognizant of the reckoning that happened in Houston last weekend, no one seems to be dwelling on it.
“It’s one game. We’ve spoken about it, we’ve addressed the issues, but that’s football right?” said goalkeeper Brad Guzan. “That’s sport. There’s a winner and a loser and unfortunately for us, the game was lost in probably the first 15-20 minutes. As I say, goals change games and it was too big a mountain to climb. But the other exciting part about sport as well is that there’s another game right around the corner. For us, it’s a big one being back in Mercedes-Benz [Stadium] in our first home game of the season. We’re excited about it.