Andrew Gutman’s late goal lifts Atlanta United past Seattle

Atlanta United midfielder Santiago Sosa #5 passes during the first half of the match against Seattle Sounders FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, United States on Saturday August 6, 2022. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Atlanta United midfielder Santiago Sosa #5 passes during the first half of the match against Seattle Sounders FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, United States on Saturday August 6, 2022. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

As soon as he hit it, Andrew Gutman said he knew his shot was going to be good.

A blazing goal by Gutman in the 94th minute lifted Atlanta United to a 2-1 victory against Seattle on Saturday afternoon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Definitely,” he said. “It bounced up perfectly.”

The Five Stripes scored the first goal on a strike by Ronaldo Cisneros, but Seattle equalized on a goal by Cristian Roldan in the second half in front of an announced attendance of 68,586. Gutman, given space and time, then hit a left-footed bomb into the lower right corner from 22 yards. It was his first goal for the club and gave outgoing President Darren Eales a nice 50th birthday present.

“I think it was perfect, it was perfect,” manager Gonzalo Pineda said.

With the win, Atlanta United improved to 7-9-7 overall. The result improved the club’s chances of qualifying as one of the seven playoff teams in the East. The Five Stripes started the day four points out of the playoffs.

Atlanta United, which has won three of its past 13 MLS games, has 11 games remaining to try to pick up as many points as possible, starting with next week’s match at Cincinnati.

Before the game, Pineda told the team he didn’t care how it got the three points.

“I don’t care if we dominate possession. I don’t care if we score a goal in the last minute,” Pineda said. “Let’s do it. And then Andrew gave us that. And it was just a perfect ending from a message before the game.”

Pineda, trying to defeat mentor Brian Schmetzer, selected 10 of the 11 players who started last week’s 0-0 draw at Chicago. Josef Martinez and Cisneros were paired at striker with Luiz Araujo on the right wing and Thiago Almada as attacking midfielder. The central midfield was composed of Santiago Sosa and Rossetto. Fullbacks were Caleb Wiley and Aiden McFadden, in for the injured George Campbell, with Alan Franco and JuanJo Purata as the centerbacks in a back four. Rocco Rios Novo started in goal.

Atlanta United got an important first goal in the 23rd minute when Cisneros’ shot went off Nouhou and into the net. Cisneros was credited with his seventh goal, Araujo with his third assist and Wiley with his first assist. The sequence started with Wiley, on the left, playing a pass into space for Araujo to run onto. He crossed it back into the box to the back post to Cisneros, who struck it with his left foot. The goal featured everything Pineda has wanted to see on offense: a run into space, a ball played into space to that runner, a cross hit from the end line, which Pineda has described as a Primary Assist Zone, multiple options in the 18-yard box, a shot and, of course, a goal.

“That’s kind of an example of our ambition in the final third,” Pineda said.

The goal was important because Atlanta United is 73-13-17 when scoring first, including 6-2-2 this season and 5-0-2 at home.

“Those goals are always great because it’s a product of the work of the whole team,” Cisneros said.

Rios Novo kept the game scoreless with a diving save to his left in the 31st minute to deny Jordan Morris from scoring on a diving header. Rios Novo touched the ball, which then bounced off the post and back to him.

Rossetto was forced off in the 43rd minute with an apparent ankle injury. Marcelino Moreno replaced him, which was interesting because Moreno has rarely, if ever, played as a defensive midfielder. Pineda switched the formation to use Sosa as a single defensive midfielder, with Moreno and Almada playing as attacking midfielders.

Pineda said playing with two attacking midfielders is something he can the coaches discussed as Moreno, Amar Sejdic and Franco Ibarra warmed up.

Pineda said he wanted to go for it, so in came Moreno to add more offense than Sejdic or Ibarra would likely provide.

Araujo was denied in the 53rd minute by the foot of Stefan Frei after he got into the box and toe-poked a shot at goal.

Raul Ruidiaz came on for Seattle in the 55th minute in an attempt to find the tying goal.

Pineda countered by bringing on Ibarra for Cisneros in the 75th minute. Moreno moved to the right wing, and Ibarra slotted in beside Sosa to shield the back line.

The move didn’t work.

Seattle got its tying goal in the 68th minute on a shot by Roldan. Seattle unbalanced Atlanta United’s defense with a nice 1-2 combination of passes in the center of the pitch about 25 yards from goal. Roldan was the first to reach the loose cross and beat Ibarra to create enough space to get off a shot.

Gutman came on for Sosa, and Edwin Mosquera made his debut in place of McFadden, in the 81st minute.

Moreno played the ball across to Gutman on the tying goal. None of Seattle’s players moved to close him down. Gutman said perhaps they were tired.

As he lined up the shot, a hole between Seattle’s defenders could be seen.

Gutman put his laces through the ball, burying the blast. Moreno was credited with his sixth assist. He’s tied with Almada for the team lead.

“We want to be in this moment in the last part of the season, with now 11 more games to go, with full determination,” Pineda said. “And the passion that they showed tonight is very encouraging.”

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1

April 30 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1

May 15 Atlanta United 2, New England 2

May 21 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

May 28 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 1

June 19 Atlanta United 2, Miami 0

June 25 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 1

June 30 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

July 3 Atlanta United 2, NYCFC 2

July 9 Austin 3, Atlanta United 0

July 13 Atlanta United 2, Real Salt Lake 1

July 17 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

July 24 L.A. Galaxy 2, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Atlanta United 0, Chicago 0

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, 5:30 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1

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