De Boer heartened by Atlanta United win: "This is what fans expect"

Atlanta United FC vs. Monterrey - Game Highlights

Acá tenemos todas las acciones del partido que llevaron a Rayados a la semifinal. #SCCL2019 #ATLvMTY (edited)

Posted by Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday, March 13, 2019

ATLANTA, Ga. — Heading into the second leg of a knockout tournament down 3-0 to one of the best teams in the Western hemisphere, Atlanta United knew the odds of advancing past CF Monterrey were stacked against them.

Coming off a dispiriting league draw on Sunday to FC Cincinnati — one that goalkeeper Brad Guzan said “feels like a loss” — the most important part of Wednesday night’s Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal second leg was the performance.

With a 1-0 win after 90 minutes at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta players and coaches can sleep a little easier with a feeling that they are on the right track.

“It's always nice to see that good reaction after Sunday, because there was no energy in that game [vs. Cincinnati],” said Atlanta head coach Frank de Boer. “The energy they put in tonight in this game — this is the energy you want to see. This is what the fans expect from Atlanta United.”

Atlanta’s captain Michael Parkhurst echoed De Boer’s sentiments about the performance from the weekend in its MLS home opener against Cincinnati and said that the effort put forth by the team was a top priority heading into the match.

“We talked about forgetting about the scoreline in the beginning of the game,” said Parkhurst. “Just give a performance that's worthy of the star on the jersey and of the fans that are here at the stadium. I thought we went out tonight and did that.”

Perhaps no Atlanta United player better displayed the energy and fight the team was looking for than young Argentine playmaker Ezequiel Barco. De Boer opted to allow his young Designated Player room to roam underneath both Josef Martinez and Pity Martinez, and Barco was seen tracking back and getting on the ball from one touchline to the other.

“Obviously we're still adapting to the style of play from our coach,” said Barco, who added that De Boer had given him some different instructions for this match than he had previously. “We understand that it's something that we're working on, but this is something that will help us again to move forward.”

Atlanta players and coaches were near unanimous in the opinion that while the team was disappointed to see their Champions League campaign come to an end, the experience is something that the team can build on going forward.

“We think it's a performance to build on,” said Parkhurst. “We're disappointed not to advance, of course, but considering how the first month has gone, it was a positive step today.”