Atlanta United will not fire a manager. You would think this wouldn’t have to be written but after firing Frank de Boer in 2020 and Gabriel Heinze in 2021, no possible action should be dismissed.
The team played well under Pineda after he took over in mid-summer. It took 24 points from 13 games. Project that over a full season and the team would earn 62 points from 34 games and that was with the benefit of not a lot of training or time to truly install and train what Pineda wanted. It wouldn’t have been enough to win the Supporter’s Shield, taken by New England with 73 points, but it would have been enough to finish in second place.
Atlanta United will not leave qualifying for the playoffs in doubt. Let’s only quicky dredge up 2020 to note that the team failed to qualify for the playoffs despite having numerous chances to do so.
In 2021, team had numerous chances to secure homefield advantage in playoffs and failed to do so. It was forced to go to Yankee Stadium where it was thoroughly defeated by eventual champs NYCFC.
This season, if it wins points at the same clip as it did last season, not only will it not have to worry about qualifying for the postseason it will secure homefield advantage.
It’s important because the team is 47-14-17 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It is 26-36-19 away from the Benz.
Atlanta United will not wonder who can consistently score other than Josef Martinez. This has always been an issue for the squad after the 2017 season. It wasn’t much of one in 2018 because Martinez won the Golden Boot with 31 goals. He followed that in 2019 with 27 goals.
He missed almost all of 2020 because of a knee injury. The team’s offense cratered with just 23 goals from 23 games.
Last season, he scored 12 goals in 24 appearances. The team scored 45 goals in 34 games. It scored the second-fewest goals among the teams that qualified for the playoffs in the East.
Martinez should be healthier physically and mentally this season after having a year to get used to his rebuilt knee and an offseason to strengthen it.
Plus, he should have a more comfortable Luiz Araujo on the right wing. Araujo will be a difference-maker for Atlanta United. His skill is evident. His speed is outstanding. His work rate on defense is there. He just needs to a level of comfort that only comes with time. He needs a bit more confidence that comes from positive results. Those things will happen this season.
Atlanta United will not drop as many points late as it did in 2020. Teams that win 60-plus points typically don’t drop a lot of points.
Atlanta United dropped 13 points last season when leading games at the 75th minute, including watching four wins turn into draws at home.
The team either won 12 points or failed to win 27 when tied at the 75th minute. It went 4-0-5 in those games last season.
And when trailing at the 75th minute, it went 0-8-2. Not good.
The team is taking steps toward turning around the trend. It started by signing veteran central midfielder Ozzie Alonso, a man who knows how to win games.
His experience, plus what the players learned last year, should benefit.
Expect at least one more signing to add some experience and steel to the roster.
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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule
Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1
March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1
March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
April 9 at Charlotte, 3 p.m., ESPN
April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN
April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
May 15 vs. New England, 2 p.m., ESPN
May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX
May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
June 19 vs Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2
June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC
July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1
July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC
August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE
August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
August 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1
August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV
August 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX
Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas
Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas
Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE
Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule
April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0
April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1
May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1
May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1
May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0
May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1
May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2
June 20 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2
June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0
June 27 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0
July 3 Chicago 3, Atlanta United 0
July 8 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2
July 17 New England 1, Atlanta United 0
July 21 Atlanta United 1, Cincinnati 1
July 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0
July 30 Orlando 3, Atlanta United 2
Aug. 4 Atlanta United 2, Montreal 2
Aug. 7 Atlanta United 3, Columbus 2
Aug. 15 Atlanta United 1, LAFC 0
Aug. 18 Atlanta United 1, Toronto 0
Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, D.C. United 1
Aug. 28 Nashville 2, Atlanta United 0
Sept. 10 Atlanta United 3, Orlando 0
Sept. 15 Atlanta United 4, Cincinnati 0
Sept. 18 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2
Sept. 25 Philadelphia 1, Atlanta United 0
Sept. 29 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 0
Oct. 2 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1
Oct. 16 Atlanta United 2, Toronto 0
Oct. 20 Atlanta United 1, NYCFC 1
Oct. 27 Atlanta United 2, Miami 1
Oct. 30 Atlanta United 1, Toronto1
Nov. 3 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0
Nov. 7 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 1