Atlanta United not sure why it lacked intensity against Houston

A lack of intensity and familiarity were two reasons given on Tuesday for Atlanta United’s 4-0 defeat at Houston in last week’s season-opening game. The Dynamo scored four goals, all in the first half, setting a record for goals scored against the Five Stripes.

Atlanta United will host D.C. United on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in their home opener.

Centerback Jeff Larentowicz said he didn’t think anyone on the team was ready to play, while Houston came out and attacked.

“We didn’t match that from the get-go and before we knew it it was out of reach,” he said. “It’s a harsh lesson but one we have to put behind us and get ready for the next game.”

Larentowicz wasn’t sure why he and his teammates lacked the property intensity.

“We’ve trained well,” he said. “We’ve trained hard. We knew what was in front of us. But Houston brought it and we didn’t match it.”

Midfielder Chris McCann said it didn’t appear as if any of Atlanta United’s players knew each other at the start of the game.

“It was kind of a whirlwind start,” he said. “We were all kind of caught out of position. We were all over the place at times.”

Houston scored its first goal in the fifth minute before netting three more in the next 42 minutes.

Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino did roll out a starting 11 that hadn’t played together in a preseason game.

Fullback Franco Escobar and midfielder Hector Villalba, who missed most of training camp with abductor injuries, came in on the right side of the formation. Julian Gressel started in the central midfield after starting three games during preseason on the right side in place of Villalba. Miguel Almiron, normally an attacking midfielder who plays in the middle, started on the left in place of the injured Ezequiel Barco.

“We are professionals,” McCann said. “At the end of the day we know our jobs. We know our roles. We didn’t execute like we should have.

“Each and every one of us on Saturday can hold our hands up and understand that it needs to be better. We are in here today working hard to get better.”

McCann also cautioned to no get too carried away by the result.

“It was the first game of the season,” he said. “We lost the first game of the season last year and went on to have a great season. Things need to get ironed out and ironed out quick. We need to put this to bed as quickly as possible.” 

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