• Atlanta United's defense helps set MLS record

    By: Doug Roberson, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Updated:

    VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Atlanta United set an MLS record in Wednesday’s 1-0 win against Vancouver by posting a fifth consecutive shutout in its fifth consecutive victory.

    The five consecutive shutout victories is a record. Eight teams won four in a row without conceding a goal.

    As it has done throughout the streak, the team limited Vancouver’s chances (5) and shots on goal (2). Atlanta United (6-3-2) has allowed only eight goals through 11 games this season.

    “If you look over the last couple of games, the chances that we are giving up, they aren’t clear-cut chances as they were the first few games of the season,” said goalkeeper Brad Guzan, whose personal shutout streak is at 456 minutes.

    The key to the scoreless streak is the team’s growing confidence, chemistry and camaraderie, according to manager Frank de Boer.

    “The result is they want to work for each other,” he said. “They understand each other better. That’s fun to watch from the outside.”

    Because it was playing its fifth game in a stretch of eight games in 28 days, and must play at the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, de Boer elected not to press and have his team try to constrict the midfield against the Whitecaps. He wanted the players to pick moments to attack. It was an interesting decision because Atlanta United came into the game leading the league in possession (59.4%) and second in shots per game (15.4).

    “We can dominate games or we can sit a little bit deeper and try to let them make mistakes and then punish them,” he said.

    Though Vancouver finished with 54 percent of possession, de Boer’s tactic proved frustrating.

    “I thought that when we had possession, we spent a lot of time in their half, but couldn’t find any kind of opening,” Vancouver manager Marc dos Santos said. “I have to give credit to Atlanta, I think they did a very good job in their defensive organization, it showed as this is their fifth game in a row they did not concede.” 

    Atlanta United still finished with 17 shots, six on goal.

    “The best form of defense is the attack and that’s our strongest attribute,” Guzan said.

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