Though they will be playing their fourth game in 11 days when Atlanta United travels across the continent to play Vancouver on Wednesday, manager Frank de Boer said he doesn’t plan wholesale rotations.
The words “tired” or “recover” were used by the players in eight difference instances in remarks after Sunday’s 1-0 win over Orlando at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
But de Boer’s squad is in good form with four consecutive wins, each a clean sheet, which he said can make the small aches and pains tolerable and the fatigue less noticeable.
“Everybody wants to join the team and wants to play, and I think that’s a good sign,” he said Monday.
De Boer said neither Michael Parkhurst nor Darlington Nagbe traveled with the team because they need rest.
Other than those decisions, de Boer said he won’t make wholesale changes to the starting lineup.
He said making as many eight changes isn’t an opportunity for those coming into the starting lineup because they’ve never played together.
Though it has scored the fewest goals (11) in MLS this season, Vancouver has won two consecutive games because of a defense that has allowed only 14 goals through 11 games.
Though the Whitecaps likely will try to bunker to frustrate Atlanta United, de Boer said his team won’t play for a draw. It wants the three points.
Atlanta United may be able to overcome the fatigue because it is getting contributions from many players. Pity Martinez scored his first goal in MLS for the margin against Orlando. Hector Villalba and Julian Gressel scored in the 2-0 win against Toronto two games ago, with Josef Martinez providing both assists. Martinez and Ezequiel Barco scored the goals in the 3-0 win against Sporting KC that started the eight-game stretch.
“Everyone understands their role a little better now and we are getting into a rhythm,” he said. “The games are coming really fast now and it’s welcomed when you are on a roll like this. We look forward to playing again on Wednesday the most important thing right now is to recover.”
On defense, Brad Guzan made three tough saves to keep Orlando scoreless, while Miles Robinson and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez continue to anchor a defense that is tied with LAFC for fewest goals allowed (8) this season.
“Ultimately goals change games and wins change the atmosphere,” Guzan said. “At the same time, we never let it get to us in such a way that it’s the end of the world. I think it’s about getting everyone on the same page of what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to play. Now you’re starting to see that.”