After that, Atlanta United won’t play again for two weeks.
Manager Frank de Boer has preached unwavering focus all season.
It hasn’t always happened.
Mental lapses resulted in losses at the New York Red Bulls, Real Salt Lake, Toronto and Chicago, to name a few incidents.
But the switch to the 3-5-2 formation, which de Boer said requires extreme concentration, may have helped his players find their focus.
“This system costs you a lot of energy, but mentally, to be focused every moment because a lot of times it’s one against one but if you see the flow in training and the team is doing fantastic,” he said.
Succeeding in the 3-5-2 requires players winning their individual matchups, particularly on the flanks. Justin Meram and Julian Gressel won those matchups Tuesday. After an early mistake that gave Orlando a scoring opportunity, Gressel’s defense and tackling proved too much for Nani, who switched sides. Gressel’s cross resulted in Remedi’s opening, decisive goal. Meram time and again beat Ruan with his dribbling skills.
Orlando seemed to control the game for the first 20 minutes, then Atlanta United’s central midfielders took over for the rest of the half. In the second half, until Atlanta United seized the game with another goal, its defenders rebuffed each Lions’ attack.
“One hundred percent (focused), everybody was involved today, played really well and concentrated,” de Boer said. “This is what I want to see.”