Coming off what their coach described as a “flat” performance, the last-place Colorado Rapids are looking for any kind of revitalizing spark when they travel to face upstart Atlanta United on Saturday at raucous Bobby Dodd Stadium.
In the midst of a dismal first half of the season, the Rapids (5-9-1) strung together four straight wins in late May and early June. But they gave up two second-half goals against the LA Galaxy and lost 3-1 on Wednesday.
“We were definitely flat,” Colorado coach Pablo Mastroeni said on MLSSoccer.com. “A large part has to do with putting opposing defenses under pressure. When you do that, and turn them, and make them face their goal as we did in the first half, you pick up second balls in good areas, which allows your team to come forward. You can set up a perimeter and you can have consistent pressure. In the second half, we started almost lulling ourselves to sleep.”
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Atlanta (6-7-3) also is looking to bounce back from disappointing midweek performance. Atlanta dropped a sloppy 2-1 decision at D.C. United on Wednesday. Atlanta keeper Alec Kann had a giveaway that led to a fluky goal in the loss that coach Gerardo Martino attributed multiple errors.
“We made many mistakes tonight, especially individual marking mistakes and against D.C., it’s obvious that those mistakes have cost us,” Martino said. “They were individual mistakes and I think you’ve seen in the games we’ve played that we dominated possession again, but D.C. is able to take advantage of the errors.”
Returning to the pitch at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Midtown Atlanta should help the United. They are 4-2 at their temporary home this season, including a current three-game win streak. During that stretch, they’ve outscored their three opponents 10-3.
Electric forward Miguel Almiron is responsible for six of those Atlanta goals — including a hat trick against Houston on May 20 — and the return of Venezuelan forward Josef Martinez only makes the United attack even more dangerous.
Colorado is still looking for its point on the road this season. The Rapids are 0-6-0 away from home this season. Plus, the Rapids are expected to be shorthanded against Atlanta, after midfielder Mohammed Saeid and forward Kevin Doyle both suffered serious injuries in the loss to the Galazy.
Saeid has been ruled out, and Doyle is listed as questionable for Saturday’s match, which will be the first between Colorado and Atlanta.