Atlanta United ‘devastated’ to not to make MLS playoffs

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda said he was very disappointed not to lead the team into the MLS playoffs in his first full season as manager.

Saturday’s 2-1 loss at New England eliminated the Five Stripes from being able to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons. The team failed to make the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons. It needed a result on Decision Day in 2021 to make the playoffs last year.

The game next weekend against NYCFC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be the first time the team will play a Decision Day game with nothing at stake.

ExploreAtlanta United loses, fails to make MLS playoffs

“I really felt before this game that we had a real chance of winning this game,” Pineda said. “I felt that the team was playing very good. I don’t know if the international break affected us a little bit on the rhythm. I don’t know. I have to reflect on that.”

The team was unbeaten in is previous three. But the performance against the Revolution was very similar to many this season and reflected why the team needed to win its final two games to have a slim chance of making the playoffs.

Atlanta United didn’t score until Josef Martinez slammed a bicycle kick in the 81st minute. It promptly gave up the winning goal four minutes later from a counter-attack after its own corner kick.

The team put only four of its 19 shots on goal despite spending the previous two weeks during the FIFA break working on its finishing. It created 17 chances.

ExploreMore AJC coverage of Atlanta United

“I think we had two very good weeks of training where the players did very well,” Pineda said. “And today we didn’t perform at that caliber. What I cannot complain about my players is giving up. What I cannot complain about my players is not putting the effort. So in that sense, I don’t blame the players. The fight was there. And that’s what I expect for the next game.”

Fullback Brooks Lennon said the players felt “devastated.”

“This is a club that should be making the playoffs every single year, no matter what the circumstances are,” he said. “I know we’ve had a lot of injuries this year. And things not go our way. But yeah, just everyone’s very disappointed. And I think it’s unacceptable for Atlanta United not to make playoffs.”

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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

Aug. 6 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 1

Aug. 13 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

Aug. 17 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, Columbus 2

Aug. 28 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2

Aug. 31 Philadelphia 4, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 4 Portland 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 10 Atlanta United 4, Toronto 2

Sept. 14 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 0

Sept 17 Atlanta United 0 Philadelphia 0

Oct. 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1