MARIETTA, Ga. — Atlanta United’s focus will turn again — possibly for the last time this season — to the Concacaf Champions League for the home leg of their quarterfinal against CF Monterrey in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday night (8 pm ET | UDN, YahooSports.com).
Staring at a 3-0 deficit following a loss to Rayados in the first leg last week, Atlanta manager Frank de Boer and his players know turning the tide is unlikely. Yet there’s still much to play for.
“We’re going to do our best to get three goals, but for me the most important thing is to see a team create chances and try to dominate,” De Boer said in his press conference Tuesday. “If we do this — what we’ve talked about — I think we’ll create chances. If it’s enough, I don’t know.”
Wednesday’s match may be less about overturning the tie against Liga MX’s only unbeaten team in the 2019 Clausura, and more about giving fans a better showing than Atlanta have for much of the season to date.
“Regardless of the result, we want to go out there and have a good performance — one where we can say we gave it all we had and we’re proud of the way we played,” defender Michael Parkhurst said. “If we do that, we can go out there and try to win the game.”
Parkhurst detailed the plan, saying if the team can get an early lead, it could give Atlanta a platform to make things interesting and unsettle Monterrey in front of the home fans.
“If we can get to halftime at 1-0, you never know,” said Parkhurst. “Then if you get a second goal, it puts a lot of pressure on the other team.”
In the wake of a disappointing 1-1 home draw to FC Cincinnati last Sunday, Atlanta players made it clear they needed to come together and “have some honest conversations,” according to goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Tuesday, the vibe around the camp was noticeably more relaxed.
“We spoke as a group and the morale is good,” said Parkhurst, the team’s captain. “We understand it’s been a tough stretch for us. It’s been a lot of games against some very good opponents. When we’ve created opportunities, we haven’t taken them. ... We were a championship team last year, but that’s last year. This year’s a new page. We haven’t taken to it as quickly as we need to with CCL and MLS coming up fast on us. It makes for a difficult start to the season, but morale is good.”