Atlanta United’s 1-0 loss to D.C. United on Wednesday won’t change its approach to playing Philadelphia on Saturday.
“Regardless of what happens in other results, we approach every game with the mentality that we want to win,” Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “We came into this one with the idea that we wanted to win. Now, we go into Saturday with the same mentality of going to Philadelphia and trying to find a way to get a result.”
With the loss – the result of an own goal – Atlanta United remains in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 35 points. The Five Stripes, who had a six-game unbeaten streak, are still well within range of several teams that occupy one of the six teams that currently occupy the six guaranteed playoff spots. For example, Atlanta United trails third-place Chicago by six points and has two games in hand, so it can make up that difference with some luck.
After Saturday’s game at the Union, Atlanta United will get almost two weeks off because of an international break and then play its first game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sept. 10 against Dallas. It will be the first of six consecutive home games in 17 days. Just two of the teams it will face during that stretch currently hold playoff spots.
“The month of September is big month for us,” Guzan said. “We know that. But we aren’t worried about that month. We are worried about the month of August. We are worried now about the game on Saturday in Philadelphia. We want to put ourselves in position to get three points on Saturday. We do that and we get a little bit of a break and we go back home.”
To get those three points on Saturday, midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said Atlanta United must avoid lapses. The team played well for the first 30-35 minutes against D.C. United, but was unable to take advantage of two decent chances.
D.C. United then began to take control of half. It came out in the second half and scored within the first two minutes. The goal was a result of a lapse in concentration when it appeared a shot saved by Guzan was going to roll out of bounds across the end line.
Instead, the ball somehow stayed on the line. Lloyd Sam ran onto it and chipped it back across the goal. Hector Villalba didn’t track Russell Canouse, who ran in front of him, and headed the pass back toward the goal. The ball bounced off Michael Parkhurst and in.
“It’s got to be a 90-minute performance,” Larentowicz said. “That’s what you have to do on the road. That’s what we’ve done on the road. Unfortunately, we didn’t do it tonight.”
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