“I think we should win this game and we have to win this game,” Robinson said. “It's just a matter of getting everyone mentally focused on the job at hand, which is right now Nashville.”
The Five Stripes haven’t struggled like this since Frank de Boer’s initial four games to start the 2019 season. But the Dutch manager is a month-and-a-half removed from mutually parting ways with the club, and on-field struggles have continued after the MLS is Back Tournament.
Layer in the continuing effects of Josef Martinez’s season-ending ACL tear, the transfer of Pity Martinez to Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr FC and up-and-down form of Ezequiel Barco, and the troubles become apparent.
Stay focused.— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) September 11, 2020
Nashville up next 😤 pic.twitter.com/R8HGgZ24Ts
Robinson evaluates all those factors and still arrives at a simple conclusion: We’re better than Nashville. Two of Atlanta’s three wins in 2020, of course, have come against the expansion newcomers. The other arrived versus FC Cincinnati.
“Just based on the last few games we've had, definitely low points, losses, ties,” Robinson said of why they face a must-win. “That's something Atlanta United as a club isn't technically used to and we shouldn't get used to it. It's just a matter of focusing, dialing in and I think the group as a whole knows we have better players than them. I think we just have to go out there and prove it.”
Interim head coach Stephen Glass stopped short of proclamations around the potential Southern rivalry. Instead he said small moments in their 2-1 midweek loss at Inter Miami CF went against them, and then the result slipped away.
“Obviously we lose the game the other night, but if it goes the way it should've gone, does someone get sent off, the penalty kick goes in, you're 2-2 playing against 10 men," Glass said. "That's the sort of thing that happens when you're flying high and things are going your way and things that should happen go your way.
"I don't think we're too far off of getting it together, if you like. I'm not going to get bogged down with the results right now, because I think the results are going to come pretty quick.”
Brad Guzan harped on those small moments, too. With greater focus and execution, the goalkeeper believes the 2018 MLS Cup champions can slowly return to the form they’ve grown accustomed to.
“The belief's still there” Guzan said. “The will to get better, to improve is certainly there. It's about execution, it's about making plays in games that ultimately can win you the game or lose you the games."