SEATTLE – Following a frustrating string of results in league play, Atlanta United were hoping Sunday’s road match against the Seattle Sounders could act as a springboard to bust them out of their recent slump.
Instead, the Five Stripes were dealt another frustrating defeat, as a second-half golazo from Raul Ruidiaz and a game-winning tally by Harry Shipp sent them to a 2-1 defeat despite a second-half leveler from star striker Josef Martinez, knocking Atlanta to 1-3-1 over their last five MLS games.
“It’s not bad luck, it’s not karma,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said after the game. “You make your own luck and we need to find a way to come out of this [funk]. It’s not bad luck, it’s not just one-off games. Another day, they could have had a few more. Second half, they hit the outside of the post, first half they got in behind us once or twice. It’s certainly not bad luck, it’s certainly not karma, it’s down to us. We need to be better.”
Atlanta will hope that a return home can help get them back on track, with each of their next two games coming in the friendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Head coach Frank de Boer will have to dig into his depth for Wednesday’s match against the Houston Dynamo (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; DAZN in Canada), however, as Atlanta lost a pair of regular contributors in Seattle.
The first was Brek Shea, who injured his knee/ankle shortly after kickoff and is highly unlikely to feature Wednesday, De Boer said. Defender Franco Escobar will also be suspended on yellow-card accumulation after getting booked Sunday on a call De Boer called “frustrating.”
“It’s really a disgrace,” De Boer said. “The guy makes a foul on him. [Franco] had the ball and because [Cristian Roldan] is hurt he gets a foul. He’s the one who entered in that challenge. Franco was the first to the ball and made a fantastic challenge and suddenly he gets a yellow card. Now he’s suspended.
“We have to puzzle a little bit and come up with a lineup against Houston,” he continued. “They have a very good team also, so we have to be prepared.”
Even with the tough stretch and a sluggish overall campaign compared to last season’s dominant MLS Cup-winning season, Atlanta still find themselves in decent shape in the league table, in third place in the Eastern Conference with 30 points from 21 games.
For the moment, Guzan said, it’s just back to the drawing board as the club try to correct course and recapture the high-flying magic that defined their first two MLS seasons.
“We have to look at this and figure out why this is happening,” Guzan said. “Every day is a chance to get better. Every day is a chance to figure out why, and how we get better. It is not just the defensive side of the ball. It is everywhere on the pitch we need to be better. Create more chances, we need to defend better, we need to be better when we have the ball, [not commit] easy turnovers all over the pitch. We need to be better.”