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Tito Villalba: We’re getting closer to playing like the Atlanta United of last year

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The Paraguayan international is optimistic about the team chances this weekend

There’s no secret this season hasn’t started like we all wanted but the team can get back on track this weekend against Columbus Crew SC. In need of their first win Atlanta United knows the pressure is on them to get three points on the road.

Tito Villalba talked to media Thursday about what the team is focusing on going into Columbus and what to expect from the Five Stripes going forward.

“Working hard, having the possession and attacking fast, all the things we always work during the week,” said Villalba when asked about the team’s primary focal point over the international break. “But this week is much more about preparing for Columbus style of play.

“We have to be very organized and play like the Atlanta United of last year, with that idea we can beat a team like Columbus, because that’s the best way to beat a team that plays well and likes to have possession of the ball. We have to use our speed to find spaces behind the defense.’’

Atlanta United has had great success against Columbus in the past (the 2017 playoffs didn’t happen) — particularly Tito, who has 5 goals in 5 starts against the Crew. But he doesn’t want to focus on the past.

‘’I think every match is different, the important thing for us is to keep working like we’ve had the past two years,” said Villalba. “Today in training, I saw a team that looked like the Atlanta of the past two years. I feel very good about the team this weekend.”

Fans haven’t been too pleased with team’s style of play in recent matches. It’s been a huge change tactically under new manager Frank de Boer from what fans and players were used to the previous two years under Tata Martino.

Even though Atlanta may have a new manager with a different philosophy, fans should be happy to hear that, according to Tito, the team is going to start playing more like the Atlanta United of last year.

“They’re completely different managers, but day by day I think Frank is starting to get closer to playing something similar to what we did under Tata.”

Villalba hasn’t been a full-time starter for a while now, but he hasn’t giving up and sees himself as an important player in the team even when Pity Martinez gets healthy.

“I think whether Pity is injured or not, I already have a role on this team,” said Villalba. “I see myself in the starting 11, I need to keep working hard like I’ve done here and with the national team.”

With Pity Martinez out this weekend, Tito has another chance to prove his worth and keep his scoring streak against the Crew going.