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Crew’s porous defense meets Atlanta United, winless in 12 straight

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Atlanta United seeks to end a 12-match winless streak Saturday at Columbus, Ohio, knowing the Crew has problems of their own.

The Crew (6-5-6, 24 points) has suddenly turned into a sieve by allowing eight total goals in consecutive losses to New York City FC (4-1) and D.C. United (4-2) after yielding 12 goals in their first 15 games.

“Two games, we’ve conceded eight goals. This is not us,” Crew captain Jonathan Mensah said. “We know we can do better.”

Atlanta United (2-6-9, 15 points) should have some momentum after rallying for two scores in the final 30 minutes to tie CF Montreal on Wednesday.

However, Josef Martinez, who scored and drew a penalty that Marcelino Moreno converted to cap the comeback, was shown a red card in the 82nd minute. He pushed away Victor Wanyama, who put his hands on Martinez’s throat. A VAR review resulted in the ejection of both players.

Unless Atlanta wins an appeal, Martinez will be suspended Saturday.

“It’s really disappointing that we won’t have him, potentially, but I think as a group we have to be together,” Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “There are no excuses. He goes out, the next person has to step up, whoever that might be.”

Atlanta is 0-5-7 since a 1-0 win vs. Montreal on May 15. One of the losses was 1-0 at home to the Crew on July 24.

“We can’t sit here and feel sorry for ourselves,” Atlanta interim coach Rob Valentino said. “We’ve got to pick ourselves up and be ready for Saturday.”

The Crew is searching for answers for their defensive shortcomings.

“I don’t think the team’s broken, even though it feels like it after giving up eight goals in two games,” Crew coach Caleb Porter said. “I’m confident you’ll see a different team and a different result, mostly different result Saturday.”

Atlanta on Thursday announced the signing of Brazilian winger Luiz Araujo of Lille in France. He will not be available Saturday.

–Field Level Media

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