Gerardo Tata Martino - Atlanta United - gestures during game vs. RBNY
USA Today Sports

Atlanta United aim to end two-month winless road drought against Columbus

MIAMI – Atlanta United will have little time to regroup after their 3-2 loss to Miami FC in the Round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup as the young expansion team now shifts gear to the remainder of the MLS season.

Currently sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings at 7-7-3, Atlanta United heads to Ohio to face fifth-place Columbus Crew SC, who sit one point ahead of them in the standings, on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) as they look to end their two-month winless drought on the road.

With a 2-5-3 record on the road this season, Gerardo Martino's men can't seem to find the formula to win on the road. The last time Atlanta won on the road was April 22 when they defeated Real Salt Lake 3-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

"We have an imbalance with the team right now. We play well at home but poor on the road," said Martino. "We know that if we want to move up on the table we need to start playing better on the road and that starts on Saturday versus Columbus."

The last time these two teams met, Atlanta defeated the Crew 3-1 at Bobby Dodd Stadium on June 17 with goals by the trio of Héctor Villalba, Miguel Almirón, and Josef Martínez.

"I was really happy with the way the team played in the second half of that game especially since Columbus is one of the best teams in the league," added Martino. "However, that was a home game for us, now we need to face them on the road."

With over eight regular starters able to return to the starting lineup after the Open Cup, Martino believes the addition of these players will be just what the club needs to balance the team into a solid playoff position.

"We could only have five foreign players [in the U.S. Open Cup] and the majority of the players that make up our team are foreigners," said Martino. "From the guys that stayed home I could only bring [Michael] Parkhurst, [Greg] Garza, and [Jeff] Larentowicz."

But even then, according to Martino, Parkhurst and Garza are not in the condition to play every MLS match plus the added midweek matches from other competitions at the moment.

With the return of core players for Atlanta, the club will set their eyes on the MLS Cup Playoffs as the team looks to make a statement by reaching the postseason in their inaugural season.

"The eight core players that were left behind in Atlanta [for the Open Cup] will be back this weekend," confirmed Martino. "We now need to focus on MLS and qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs. We need to get better results on the road if we want to have better opportunities in the standings."