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Rapids-Atlanta United Preview
While it's been a rough beginning to the post-championship season for Atlanta United FC, things have started even worse for the Colorado Rapids.
In a matchup of two last-place sides, Atlanta looks to keep the visiting Rapids winless on Saturday night.
This was not how the follow-up to Atlanta's impressive run to the MLS Cup title in just its second season was to start. However, the hangover of that memorable season seems to be lingering for United (1-3-2), especially on offense, where it's managed just five goals.
Atlanta, last in the Eastern Conference, has not conceded more than two goals in any game this season. Still, that total was enough to result in another loss last weekend, 2-1 at home to FC Dallas. United was already down 2-0 when Josef Martinez scored on a penalty kick in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time.
It was just the second goal of the season for Martinez, who scored 35 including playoff games during his 2018 MVP campaign.
"We have to put it behind us, we have to learn from it," defender Michael Parkhurst told Atlanta's official website following last weekend's defeat. "The next opportunity is Saturday, and we don't want to waste that one … Let's put in a good performance on Saturday, score goals and hopefully, pick up three points."
There's actually a very good chance Atlanta will be able to break out in the goal department against Colorado's leaky defense.
A major reason the Rapids (0-6-2) are the lone winless team in MLS and off to their worst start in club history is because they've yielded a league-high 23 goals. They've conceded four in three of the last four games amid a five-match losing steak - their longest slide since dropping seven straight in the second half of last season.
After Kei Kamara scored his fifth goal of the season just before halftime to tie Chicago 1-1 last weekend, the Fire scored three times in the second half as the defensive wheels once again fell off the cart for the Rapids in a 4-1 loss.
"It feels like right now we have to have a perfect game just to win a game for our team," midfielder Benny Feilhaber told the Rapids' official website. "Way too many defensive mistakes all over the field. It's frustrating, and MLS is one league if you make those kinds of mistakes where you give teams instead of 50-percent goal chances, 90-percent goal chances, you're gonna get crushed.
"We've got to find a way to solve those problems. And right now, we are not solving any of them."
Things might not get any easier for the Rapids, who have been outscored 4-0 while losing both previous meetings with Atlanta.
Updated April 25, 2019