Phil Neville wants his Inter Miami side to swiftly regain their form as they hunt a playoff spot.
Miami went on a run of five wins from six games to propel themselves into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference, though they have now lost their last two matches, conceding nine goals in the process and scoring just once in return.
Those defeats have left them 10th, though they are in a tightly contested chase for the playoffs as the end of the regular season approaches.
“That’s the challenge over the next six days,” said Neville after the defeat to Nashville SC last time out.
“We’ve got to regroup, we go again. We’ve got to make sure we’re actually working on our mentality to want to do the things that will make us successful. You can’t just keep turning it on like a tap or expect someone to come and knock at your door and give you a playoff place.
“I’ve watched lots of teams, all the teams will want to get into the playoffs, and there’s some quality teams in and around this pack that we’re in and at this moment in time we’ve dipped and we’ve dipped badly, and we need to get out of this dip very quickly.”
Atlanta United are next up for Miami. The Five Stripes are also involved in the playoff race, but lost 1-0 to Philadelphia Union at the weekend.
“The second half was a little bit better,” coach Gonzalo Pineda said. “But at the end of the day it wasn’t good enough, and we lost a very important game.
“Philadelphia wanted to create more chances and we didn’t create enough.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Atlanta United – Brad Guzan
Brad Guzan was in superb form against the Union, making eight saves, keeping out 88 percent of the shots he faced.
Inter Miami – Gonzalo Higuain
Miami’s only goal from across the last two games came from Gonzalo Higuain, who has moved into double figures for the season. Neville will need his star man in top form in the playoff push.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Miami is unbeaten in five all-time meetings with Atlanta United (W2 D3), though the last two meetings have ended in draws. Atlanta is the only team Miami has played more than three times without losing and Miami is the one of two teams Atlanta has faced and never beaten in MLS (Seattle Sounders – four meetings).
– Atlanta’s 1-0 defeat to Philadelphia on Saturday was just its second loss since the start of August (W7 D1 L2). The Five Stripes managed just six shots against the Union, equaling its fewest in a match this season.
– Miami has lost two straight matches after losing just one of its previous 11 games (W7 D3). Miami has allowed as many goals in the two losses as it had in the previous 11 games (9).
– Ezequiel Barco has scored in each of Atlanta United’s last three home matches. Barco has scored five times at Mercedes Benz Stadium this season after scoring a total of four home goals in his first three MLS seasons combined.
– Three of Lewis Morgan’s six MLS goals have been scored against Atlanta United, including one of his two multi-goal games. Morgan has never scored away from DRV PNK Stadium, however.