Atlanta United FC captured a 1-0 win over FC Dallas on Wednesday, the highlight of what undoubtedly has been the most turbulent season of the club's four-year history.
On Sunday night, Atlanta (4-7-2, 14 points) will look to put the negativity in the past when they visit the equally struggling Chicago Fire.
In Atlanta, coach Frank de Boer was dismissed following three straight losses at the MLS is Back Tournament in July. Prior to Wednesday, interim coach Stephen Glass had secured only one victory in the seven matches since taking over for de Boer.
Those issues eventually led to a team meeting ahead early this week. The resulting victory Wednesday -- on Jeff Larentowicz's 55th-minute goal -- put Atlanta back narrowly above the playoff line, and in a better frame of mind, according to defender Brooks Lennon.
"I think it had a major impact on the performance from the guys tonight," Lennon said of the meeting. "We had a heart-to-heart meeting with the entire group, we watched film and we just talked about what was going wrong in the season and the things that we thought were going well. I thought tonight it definitely translated to the guys' performance."
Also on Wednesday, the Fire (3-7-3, 12 points) completed a 4-0 home win over the Houston Dynamo to halt their own five-game winless slide.
The Fire actually hold a plus-one goal differential over their past seven matches, dating back to a 3-0 win over FC Cincinnati on Aug. 25. Spreading those goals around a bit more might help 12th-place Chicago make a late postseason push.
"I mean I'd rather win four times 1-0, then one time 4-0," said Fabian Herbers, who scored Chicago's second goal. "But now, we've got to keep it going, the momentum was good, I think we showed what the team is capable of if we stay engaged, and stay positive, with good energy on the field and be better on both ends of the field."
--Field Level Media