Simply beating Club America would be a win for Atlanta United

Atlanta United midfielder Eric Remedi #5 dribbles the ball during the first half of the first leg match between Atlanta United FC and Club America in the quarterfinal round of the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday March 11, 2020. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)
Atlanta United midfielder Eric Remedi #5 dribbles the ball during the first half of the first leg match between Atlanta United FC and Club America in the quarterfinal round of the 2020 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday March 11, 2020. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Credit: Eric Remedi

Credit: Eric Remedi

Team needs to score at least three goals to try to advance to semifinals of Champions League

Completing the challenge of overturning a 3-0 deficit against Club America and advancing into the semifinals of the Champions League starts with Atlanta United simply winning the second leg Wednesday in Orlando.

That is the focus the players and for interim manager Stephen Glass, in what could be his last game in charge if the team doesn’t advance.

If they win by one, hey, an Atlanta United team that has been mostly disappointing this year will have knocked off one of the best teams in the Western hemisphere.

If they somehow win by three to advance to the semifinals for the first time, that’s an early Christmas.

“Only thing I can ask of the players is to give maximum effort for as long as we can and see if we can get a special result,” Glass said.

It’s a similar situation to what the team faced in last year’s Champions League when it was beaten by Monterrey 3-0 in the first leg. Atlanta United won the return leg 1-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Though eliminated from the competition, defeating the LIGA MX power was a boost of confidence that helped the team win two more trophies that season. One of those trophies came at the expense of Club America in the Campeones Cup played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

But this is slightly different because this isn’t March, when the game was supposed to have been played, so there’s nothing else after this tournament this season. So, the team could be forgiven for not taking a healthy approach to completing this monumental task.

Atlanta United’s MLS season ended in early November when it failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in four years. Its offense was poor, and its defense was inconsistent. The players took two weeks off and then those who weren’t released or didn’t have contract options picked up by the club reported back to the training facility in early November to begin preparing for what is likely a single game, away from home, against a quality opponent with a commanding lead. Oh, and Atlanta United likely will be missing Marcelino Moreno and Jurgen Damm and definitely will be without Brooks Lennon, Mo Adams, Anton Walkes and Josef Martinez, who missed all but one league game this season after sustaining a knee injury in March.

Instead, centerback Miles Robinson said the group has been focused and showing positive attitudes during training. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan credited getting some time off to recharge.

“It’s definitely something that no one our team has experienced before,” Robinson said. “As a professional you have to grind through challenges like this. We are excited even though we are down 3-0 on aggregate. Team’s energy has been pretty good.”

To try to get that win, Glass said the team can’t open itself too much. There are no three-goal goals in soccer. The key is try to get that first goal within the game’s first 20 minutes, according to Damm, and then see what happens.

“Every time we step on the field it’s a chance to perform; every time we step on the field it’s a chance to win,” Guzan said. “That’s what representing Atlanta United is about. We want to win the game, first and foremost. If we’ve scored enough goals to push us into the next round, fantastic.”

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Atlanta United coming games

Wednesday vs. Club America in second leg of Champions League quarterfinals. Atlanta United trails 3-0 after the first leg

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