Conti: Atlanta United 'regressed' against FC Cincinnati

The Morning Show w/ John & Hugh
March 11, 2019 - 11:33 am

© Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

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The stage was set for an expected win.

After a rough start to the 2019 season, and facing elimination in CONCACAF Champions League play, Atlanta Unitedhosted their first game of the new MLS season at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against expansion FC Cincinnati. Expectations were high as the franchise and fans believed Sunday would yield win No. 1 on their road to repeating as league champions.

Yet despite lowering the championship banner, and MLS MVP Josef Martinez scoring quickly on Sunday, United was left stunned once again, falling into a 1-1 draw before an announced crowd of 70,382.

“This is as bad as they've played," Atlanta United radio voice Mike Conti said.

"They're still defending very well but in the attacking third, it's not there yet. We thought it would not be a new system, but clearly now we know that it is. It seems like the responsibility of what the players have to do is different; some dramatically. They’ve played five competitive matches to be able to figure it out, and they’re not there yet.”  

While shedding some light on one of the reasons he feels the team is struggling, Conti told the Morning Show's John Fricke and Hugh Douglas that he believes it's due to a lack of practice time.

“They've only had one full day to train as a team in the last 11 days. How can you get better if you aren't able to dedicate more time to train? The CONCACAF Champions League has had somewhat of a burdensome effect on them right now. I know they've embraced the opportunity to play in international competition. I don't want to sound like I'm making an excuse, but you can. This team is tired, and why wouldn’t it be? Three matches in six days; four matches in nine games and they're in the span of six (games) in 18 days. They’re underperforming, and they know it.”

While some following the sport want a change with new coach Frank de Boer, Conti said, “I think you have to give it a little time. I think it would be ill-advised to throw out the coach after five matches. I know it feels bad. It doesn't feel good (but) they're not in terrible shape. I think it may be a slight blessing in disguise before those matches go away. Those matches are causing problems."

When is it okay to be a little concerned?

"Right now, right now...I have cause for concern right now because it looks like they regressed yesterday."

Atlanta United tries to survive in CONCACAF play this Wednesday when they host Monterrey at MB Stadium at 9pm ET.