With Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Columbus, Atlanta United has more road wins this season (five) than it had last season.
And it will have nine more chances to improve upon that total. Six of those matches will come against teams that are below the red line.
Atlanta United leads the league with 33 points, 17 coming from the road where it has a better record (5-1-2) than it does at home (5-2-1).
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan said the biggest difference between last season, the team’s first when its road record was 4-6-7, and this season is their approach and developed maturity.
The league record for road wins in the non-shootout era is nine. It has been set by four teams.
“I don’t think it was until the eighth or ninth minute until they touched the ball,” he said. “We had a fantastic period in the first half where we kept the ball moving, one or two touches, made them shift, made them defend. Obviously, they weren’t pressing us high, and we weren’t causing them any problems. Stuff like that is important on nights like tonight. It’s how you get points on the road in MLS.”
Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino said the success is a reflection of chemistry and experience.
“We have been together longer,” he said. “We were able to modify systems. More time together, able to modify the formations, more hours of work on the field just getting to know each other better. That’s been the difference. “
Atlanta United’s only loss on the road this season came in its first game in a 4-0 drubbing at Houston.
Since then, the Five Stripes have defeated the Crew, Chicago, L.A. Galaxy, Orlando and Minnesota and tied New England and NYCFC. Three of those teams are below the red line, which signifies the six teams in each conference that will advance to the playoffs.
Atlanta United has earned points in a variety of ways. It dominated the Galaxy to earn three points, and was dominated after being reduced to 10 men in Minnesota, but still came out with all of the points. It coughed up a late goal and two points against the Revs, and held on for dear life to earn a point at NYCFC.
The win against Columbus was more professional and efficient. Atlanta United went from the 3-5-2 back to the 4-3-3 formation that it had success with last season, enjoyed 54 percent of the possession and allowed just three shots on goal.
“I think it’s really important,” Hector Villalba said. “It’s going to serve us well, because we want to be a good team on the road. That’s something we set for ourselves as a goal this year, to be better on the road, because last year, at times, we were weak. We want to get as many points as we possibly can, and we know it’s impossible to take all of them, but we just want to take as many as we can and be strong on the road.”