Atlanta United hoping more passion, confidence will help

Atlanta United RC goalkeeper Alec Kann saves a shot against the N.Y. Red Bulls during their first game in franchise history on Sunday, March 5, 2017, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta United RC goalkeeper Alec Kann saves a shot against the N.Y. Red Bulls during their first game in franchise history on Sunday, March 5, 2017, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

How does an MLS team overcome not having as many as 10 players, many of them starters, for its next game because of injuries or call-ups?

“Passion,” Atlanta United manager Gabriel Heinze said Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s game at Nashville.

Heinze’s team appears to be on the ropes.

It is winless in its past six. It is scoreless in its past three. Most of its mistakes are being punished. It’s not forcing opponents into mistakes that it can attempt to exploit.

And, there’s this: It will play without starting goalkeeper Brad Guzan, centerbacks Miles Robinson and likely Alan Franco, fullback George Bello, midfielders Ezequiel Barco, Emerson Hyndman, Matheus Rossetto, Franco Ibarra and Jurgen Damm, and possibly striker Josef Martinez, who trained by himself Tuesday because he tested positive for COVID-19 while with the Venezuelan national team at the Copa America.

It may need a lot of passion.

“Guys are hungry,” said Alec Kann, who likely will make his first start in more than three years in place of Guzan. “A lot of guys that haven’t had opportunities in a while will potentially get a chance to show what they can do and show we have the quality to play in this league. Guys ask for opportunities all the time. When they come, you need to take it and run with it.”

Midfielder Marcelino Moreno said trainings have been strange with so few players involved, but the only way the team can get out of its rut is to keep working.

“We feel like we have the necessity to win,” he said. “We are putting in the maximum effort we can.”

Heinze and Moreno indicated that they think the team isn’t far from a finished product.

Though outscored 3-0 by Chicago in its last game, in which Atlanta United put only two shots on goal, Heinze said the team simply needs to keep trying what it works on in training: through passes and finishing and confidence with the ball.

“It’s something we are missing,” he said.

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Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule

April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0

April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1

May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1,

May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1

May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

June 20 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0

June 27 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0

July 3 Chicago 3, Atlanta United 0

July 8 at Nashville, 8:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. New England, 5 p.m., ESPN

July 21 at Cincinnati, 8 p.m., FS1

July 24 vs. Columbus, 3:30 p.m., ABC

July 30 at Orlando, 8 p.m., ESPN

Aug. 4 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 7 at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 15 vs. LAFC, 4 p.m. ESPN

Aug. 18 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at D.C. United, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 28 vs. Nashville, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 10 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 15 vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 18 vs. D.C. United, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 25 at Philadelphia,3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 29 vs. Inter Miami, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 2 at Montreal, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 16 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, TBD, BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

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