What better mental and physical preparation for the postseason?
“I will say that just being part of those matches, with that intensity, with that mentality of playing finals, I think is perfect to have success in the playoffs,” Pineda said.
After Atlanta United was bounced out of the Leagues Cup, when it wasn’t playing well and hadn’t yet guaranteed itself a playoff spot, Pineda said the team’s next 10 matches were going to be like 10 finals. The team, with the help of one of the better transfer windows in franchise history, is 4-1-2 in the first seven matches. The only match it lost, against Cincinnati, happened because of two late goals by the visitors.
So, focus isn’t a worry.
Pineda said watching the team play its past seven matches and watching it train during the past week has reaffirmed that the players are motivated. Pineda now wants to see, again, that they are committed by taking the nine points and finishing in the top four.
“Now that it’s in our hands, I can see that the players are committed,” Pineda said. “And that’s the most important part.”
Captain Brad Guzan said there is no extra motivation from realizing that the team controls its future.
“We know that we want to try to be on the up going into the playoffs. We’ve got three games. If we win those three games, then that comes with its own little reward,” he said. “So it’s not an extra motivation. It’s hopefully something we can achieve.”
It won’t be easy.
The Union have defeated Atlanta United three consecutive times at Subaru Park and have lost once in 15 matches at home this season. However, Philadelphia has drawn in five consecutive matches. It’s competing for the same playoff advantage as Atlanta United.
“It’s going to be a proper game; it’s going to be a battle,” Guzan said. “And we need to make sure we earn the right to play the style we want, and you earn that right by rolling your sleeves up and being ready for the fight and being ready for the battle because if you’re not going to do that part, then the soccer side is not going to come with it.”
For more content about Atlanta United
Follow me on Twitter @DougRobersonAJC
On Facebook at Atlanta United News Now
On Instagram at DouglasDavidRoberson
Atlanta United coverage on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Southern Fried Soccer podcast can be found
Apple - https://apple.co/3ISD6Ve
Spotify - https://spoti.fi/3L8TN0C
Google podcasts - https://bit.ly/32KlZW3
If you are listening to us for the first time, please follow us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast ... and if you like what you hear, please give us a good rating so we can grow the show. If you have questions about the MLS team, you can email Doug Roberson at email@example.com, DM him on Twitter @dougrobersonajc or call 404-526-2527.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a special offer for our podcast listeners. If you subscribe today, you can get three months of unlimited digital access for just 99 cents. That’s all of our sports coverage, politics, breaking news, investigations, food and dining, and so much more on AJC.com. Plus, access to our ePaper and our assortment of newsletters. So, join our community by going to subscribe.ajc.com/podcasts that’s subscribe.ajc.com/podcasts so you always know what’s really going on.
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 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 1
Sept. 23 Atlanta United 4, Montreal 1
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.