It didn't quite go to plan for the reigning MLS Cup champions.
Behind a first-half Alexandru Mitrita hat trick, NYCFC played Atlanta off the pitch to the tune of a 4-1 win. The loss drops Atlanta to third place in the East, after the Philadelphia Union won later on Wednesday night. In the aftermath of Atlanta's disappointing result, without Josef Martinez, Julian Gressel and Ezequiel Barco it must be noted, goalkeeper Brad Guzan didn't mince words.
"We weren't good," Guzan told media after the game. "We weren't good the moment we stepped on the pitch. They were better than us in every aspect of the game in the first half. We talked about it being a playoff game tonight. We talked about it being a real game. We talked about knowing they were going to come out flying in the first minute. We weren't good enough. The spacing was so big that they had so much time and space on the ball to play. We were chasing shadows. We didn't tackle. We didn't win balls in the air. We had two chances in the first half compared to their chances. They are a good team. We were nowhere near the same level as them."
Guzan wasn't just irate with Atlanta's quality on the night, more their determination.
"It’s a winning thing, it's mentality thing," Guzan said. "You look at our record, the amount of wins that have come via clean sheets and the amount of wins that have come after we conceded goals. Not good enough. From a collective group. We concede one, heads drop, mentality goes."
Guzan has a point. Only FC Cincinnati have won fewer points from losing positions this season.
"We need to have a serious look in the mirror. All of us," Guzan said. "We play like this, it’s going to be a short postseason. You can’t play like this against good teams at any time. Now there's two games left in the season. We were playing for something tonight and we weren't good enough. Our job is to step on the field and perform. Our job is to stand up and be counted on. Find a way to get results. To grind. To fight."
Atlanta will look to build momentum this Sunday against the Montreal Impact (5 pm ET | TVAS, MLS LIVE on ESPN+).