Atlanta United, coming off arguably its best offensive performance this MLS season with five goals Saturday against Miami, will face a unique test Wednesday at D.C. United.
Wayne Rooney’s team hasn’t allowed a goal in the past 322 minutes.
While one team is scoring its way toward securing a playoff spot, the other is grinding its way. Atlanta United (12-8-9) is in sixth place. D.C. United (9-12-8) is in the ninth and final playoff spot.
“They are their warriors,” Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda said. “They are a team that is very competitive. To me, their coach, their franchise in general, when you go to their stadium, they are fighting almost always.”
Atlanta United’s offense has looked overpowering in many of its matches since the Leagues Cup. The team has scored 14 goals in its past five games. The goals are coming from everywhere: Right wings Edwin Mosquera and Saba Lobjanidze, striker Giorgos Giakoumakis, attacking midfielder Thiago Almada, left wingers Xande Silva and Tyler Wolff, central midfielder Tristan Muyumba, right fullback Brooks Lennon and centerback Miles Robinson all have tallied.
“I’ll say that again, it’s the players, always,” Pineda said of the recent success. “The type of players we have, the understanding from their side on how we want to play and their execution. But I will say that yes, the aggression is good. The intensity is fantastic. Everyone is working both sides of the ball. That’s great to us.”
With the goals may come awards. Giakoumakis’ four goals in the past five matches have moved him into a tie in the race for the Golden Boot, with 14 goals. Almada’s five assists have put him atop the league leaders for assists, with 15, which also is a franchise record – with five matches remaining.
Giakoumakis said he doesn’t have a prediction as to how many goals it will take to win the Golden Boot, but he said it is something he wants to win.
He said the team winning matches is more important, and he thinks that it is mentally stronger than it was earlier in the season. He said that is partially because of the new signees: Silva, Lobjanidze and Muyumba.
“Right now we have a very strong unit,” Giakoumakis said. “We have had very, very good, very good results, the last games, and our confidence is really high. We hope to keep going like that.”
Pineda said the team still can improve. He said he doesn’t like when the team starts playing “ping pong,” when they lose the ball while attacking and the opponent counters.
He said it doesn’t mean his team shouldn’t attack when it has an opportunity. He does prefer that it maintain its control and possession.
“That’s better for us because that’s who we are and how we play,” he said.
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Atlanta United’s 2023 MLS schedule
Feb. 25 Atlanta United 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1
March 4 Atlanta United 1, Toronto FC 1
March 11 Atlanta United 3, Charlotte FC 0
March 18 Atlanta United 5, Portland 1
March 25 Columbus 6, Atlanta United 1
April 1 Atlanta United 1, New York Red Bulls 0
April 8 Atlanta United 1, New York City FC 1
April 15 Atlanta United 2, Toronto FC 2
April 23 Atlanta United 2, Chicago 1
April 29 Nashville SC 3, Atlanta United 1
May 6 Inter Miami CF 2, Atlanta United 1
May 13 Charlotte 3, Atlanta United 1
May 17 Atlanta United 4, Colorado 0
May 20 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 3
May 27 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1
May 31 Atlanta United 3, New England 3
June 7 Atlanta United 0, LAFC 0
June 10 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 1
June 21 Atlanta United 2, New York City 2
June 24 New York Red Bulls 4, Atlanta United 0
July 2 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 0
July 8 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0
July 12 New England 2, Atlanta United 1
July 15 Orlando City 2, Atlanta United 1
July 25 Miami 4, Atlanta United 0 in Leagues Cup
July 29 Cruz Azul 1 (5), Atlanta United (4) 1 in Leagues Cup
Aug. 20 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 0
Aug. 26 Atlanta United 4, Nashville 0
Aug. 30 Cincinnati 2, Atlanta United 1
Sept. 2 Atlanta United 2, FC Dallas 2
Sept. 16 Atlanta United 5, Inter Miami 2
Sept. 20 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 vs. CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 at FC Cincinnati, 6 p.m.