Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer said that if his team keeps playing as it did in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Dallas at Mercedes-Benz Stadium it will soon starting winning a lot of games.
“I told them, if you play like this, I think from the 30 games remaining, you will win 28,” he said. “One you will lose like this today, and one you are going to draw. I think we made two steps forward today, not with the result of course, very disappointed with that, but I was proud with the intensity with how we played.”
Atlanta United dominated possession (more than 70 percent) and took 22 shots, eight on goal. That total of shots was tied for third-most in team history. The difference on Saturday was that Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez was everywhere, stopping free kicks from Ezequiel Barco and Julian Gressel, as well as a point-blank shot from Josef Martinez.
“I think this what we want, going out there and creating chances,” de Boer said. “Like I‘ve said again and again, I cannot make them (the goals), they have to make them. We’ve all made goals, that’s for sure, and if we play like this we are going to win a lot of games.”
A hard-to-argue complaint against Atlanta United earlier in the season was that it wasn’t creating enough chances getting enough shots on goal in MLS play. It had just nine shots, two on goal, at D.C. United, 10 and 4 against Cincinnati and 12 and 2 against Philadelphia. It didn’t win any of those games.
De Boer changed the formation to a more familiar 4-4-1-1 and Atlanta United had 16 shots, five on goal at Columbus and 19, eight on goal at New England. It went 1-1 in those games.
And those were followed by Saturday’s season high against Dallas, which is why Atlanta United players said they were both optimistic about what’s next while at the same time disappointed with the result against Dallas.
“We were prepared, going forward, I think you take a lot of the positives, eventually the goalkeeper’s not going to have enough to stay in the game,” Jeff Larentowicz said.
Converting those chances is obviously the key.
Captain Michael Parkhurst said the team may be lacking confidence in front of goal.
“It is the toughest thing to do in soccer, and it’s more difficult when the goalie is playing well,” Parkhurst said. “We don’t have the confidence right now. Goals tend to come in bunches sometimes, and right now, we scored a couple goals in New England and could have had more.
“Tonight, we get one at the very end with the penalty, but during the run of play, we had some chances but just didn’t get it. A little unlucky not enough quality in front of net. We are happy (that) we created the chances, and we know they will start to fall for us.”
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