Atlanta United noticing a formula when teams visit Mercedes-Benz Stadium

ATLANTA — Given his team failed to take all three points at home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, from a team that played a man down for most of the second half, Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino was surprisingly serene about the result during the post-match press conference.

“I’m calm with the production of the team today,” he said through a translator following his team’s 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday afternoon.  “Because it’s difficult to play against a defense that sits so far back and plays very defensively. It’s difficult to break that defense down. I think we did it pretty well at times, especially in the second half, but it’s hard to do.”

Martino and his players admitted that visiting teams may have figured out the best way to take points from their trips to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which once again welcomed a record crowd on Sunday. In their last six matches at home, Atlanta has only won twice. 

“Teams are playing differently,” said midfielder Jeff Larentowicz. “When you go on the road, and teams are playing at home, they’re going to play differently. The gameplan has switched for teams when they’re coming here to play. It seems like there is a formula. And like we’ve kind of said to ourselves, it’s up to us to crack it.”

The key for Atlanta moving forward, said Martino, is to finish their opportunities more efficiently. The Fives Stripes had 18 total shots, six of which were on target, yet Golden Boot leader Josef Martinez was the only Atlanta player able to finish one of his chances.

During the second half, Chris McCann and Miguel Almiron had golden opportunities inside the Seattle penalty area, but both were left begging.

“It’s not worrisome, but it’s something that we could work on is to have somebody other than Josef in and around the box able to score goals for us,” said Martino. “To just try to have more guys getting into the goalscoring positions.”