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Atlanta United’s Gonzalez Pirez criticizes de Boer

Atlanta United defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Columbus Crew SC forward Patrick Mullins (32) exchange words during the first half in the Round of 16 of the U.S. Open Cup Tuesday, June 18, 2019, at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
Atlanta United defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Columbus Crew SC forward Patrick Mullins (32) exchange words during the first half in the Round of 16 of the U.S. Open Cup Tuesday, June 18, 2019, at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

Credit: Maddie Schroeder

Credit: Maddie Schroeder

Leandro Gonzalez Pirez on Monday became the third Atlanta United player to publicly criticize manager Frank de Boer, telling MLSSoccer.com that "things have changed a lot, the way the club has played the game and we don't like it."

Gonzalez Pirez was speaking during an interview session ahead of Wednesday’s All-Star Game in Orlando.

Striker Josef Martinez said a few weeks ago that Atlanta United should always be attacking. He didn't directly mention de Boer, but the implication was obvious. Midfielder Pity Martinez, who is struggling at Atlanta United after an MLS record transfer from River Plate during the offseason, told an Argentine radio station that he hasn't agreed with de Boer's tactics, which have been more defensive than the team played under previous manager Gerardo Martino. Gonzalez Pirez said the players and de Boer are talking, but sometimes the message isn't clear.

Atlanta United is second place in the East with 36 points. It has a plus-9 goal difference.

“Of course it’s hard,” Gonzalez Pirez said. “Two years of playing the same way, which in return gave you results. Coming out as champions, winning the league in a deserving manner. When there was no reason to change, things changed.

“But we’re professionals, we have to adapt to what the coach wants and what the sporting director wants and try to do things in the best possible manner because we share the same objective.”

Atlanta United led MLS with 70 goals in 34 games last season. It was the second consecutive season the team scored 70 goals. They have scored 38 through 23 games this season.

“It seems like the idea to attack or opponents has been put to the side and we usually being defending first, and for us, we don’t like that,” he said. “If you notice, we aren’t a team that’s known to play defensively, but we were a team that scored the most goals and it made a difference during games. The games now we approach them playing uphill and it’s very distinct to the way we played last year, and we’re not pleased with that. So, it’s something that we need change to go back to feeling that same sensation when we were a team that was really strong offensively.”