Atlanta United will try to bounce back against New England

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan blocks a shot by Philadelphia Union forward Kacper Przybylko during a CONCACAF Champions League soccer match Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan blocks a shot by Philadelphia Union forward Kacper Przybylko during a CONCACAF Champions League soccer match Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Atlanta United can show that it has forgotten the disappointment of Tuesday’s loss to Philadelphia in the Champions League when it resumes MLS play with Saturday’s game at New England.

“This is football,” Atlanta United manager Gabriel Heinze said. “You can be sad for only one day.”

If Atlanta United shows the fire in the first half against the Revolution that it showed throughout its 3-0 loss to the Union at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, then Heinze may truly be working wonders with a team that wasn’t mentally strong last season.

After the game Tuesday, Heinze talked about the energy watching his team gave him. He complimented how far along it is in learning his tactics and preferences. He was saying all the things that the players, particularly the young ones, in Brad Guzan’s opinion, needed. Atlanta United’s starting lineup against Philadelphia included eight players 25 years old or younger.

“When a manager backs players, especially young players, it gives them confidence going forward,” Guzan said.

New England will provide a good opportunity for Atlanta United’s players to show their resiliency. The Revs, led by Bruce Arena, were picked in the preseason by most who follow MLS to finish second or third in the East. The team is 1-1-0, with a 1-0 victory against D.C. United and a 2-2 draw with Chicago in its opener.

Similarly to Philadelphia, the Revs like to pack the middle of the field. Similarly to Philadelphia, they use two strikers. A difference between the two teams is that New England gives Carles Gil freedom to go wherever he needs to make the offense work.

“It’s going to be important to have an eye on him,” Guzan said.

Atlanta United needs another confident game because it faces Philadelphia again Tuesday in the second leg of its series. It should take a near historic performance by the Five Stripes to turn that around. In Champions League history, only one team in 16 instances has overcome a three-goal deficit after the first leg.

That confidence could continue to be developed Saturday.

“We are going up there with our own game plan,” Guzan said. “Over last few games, you’ve seen we are looking to win, to compete, score goals. That will be no different come Saturday.”

In Other News