Atlanta United interim head coach Rob Valentino expressed the importance of focusing on the present ahead of travelling to DC United at Audi Field on Thursday.

The Five Stripes have won just one of their last 12 league games, dating back to the beginning of April, but will be hoping to return to winning ways against their opponents, who they beat in May to end their last winless run in the MLS.

Atlanta are a point above bottom side New England Revolution, having played a game less, and know a win is a must to build momentum for the rest of the season.

However, Valentino was keen to focus on the future, and insists his side are continuing to push to get points on the board.

“In reality, what I talked about last week was that is the past,” said Valentino. “We obviously did our evaluation and now we have moved forward.

"It is about how we can progress and get better. So, in that sense, it’s been about game one of Houston, and we have talked about being present.

"We are going to keep pushing forward on how we can continue to get better and get the outcomes we want.”

Meanwhile, DC United are enduring a losing streak of their own, having gone six games without a victory (D2 L4) following their defeat to Charlotte on Saturday.

The Black-and-Red come into the contest sitting 10th in the Eastern Conference, but have picked up their last two points in front of their home supporters.

Despite their recent form, head coach Troy Lesesne believes improvements have been made on the pitch and is hopeful of returning to winning ways.

"You could see that there was progress," Lesesne said. "You could see that there were areas that we wanted to identify coming out of the first half of the season.

"We made some very good steps in a lot of ways, and we have to keep staying on that path because the difference is very small right now between realising the result we want, and feeling like how we did against Toronto.

"We have to regroup, we have to reset, and we have to again against Atlanta."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

DC United – Christian Benteke

The Belgian striker is coming up against one of his favoured opponents and scored a hat-trick the last time he faced Atlanta United.

Since his arrival in the MLS, Benteke has only scored more goals against New England Revolution (five).

Atlanta United – Xande Silva

Silva has scored in each of his last two MLS matches after having scored only twice in his first 20 career league appearances.

The only player since the start of the 2022 season to score in three straight league games for Atlanta was Giorgos Giakoumakis (twice).

MATCH PREDICTION: ATLANTA UNITED WIN

Both sides come into the contest at Audi Field in poor form, and are hopeful of returning to winning ways to move up the Eastern Conference table.

DC United’s 3-2 win at Atlanta in May ended a six-match winless run for them against the Five Stripes (D1 L5).

However, Atlanta are unbeaten in their last four matches away at DC (W3 D1) after losing each of their first four visits.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

DC United – 35.4%

Draw - 26%

Atlanta United – 38.6%