A goal by George Campbell, a free kick by Ezequiel Barco that turned into an own goal, and a goal by Barco were enough to lift Atlanta United to a 3-0 victory over Orlando on Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The win was the first for manager Gonzalo Pineda and was the first time the team hosted a game on a Friday night. The game had an announced attendance of 42,507.

“It’s not about my first win,” he said. “It’s about these three points that are very valuable for the team for the club. The players deserve every single part of the victory. I felt that they did an amazing job, they worked very hard last two weeks. And this is the reward for them. At the same time, is a reward for the fans, which I really like the connection. We played for them. They were cheering for us in every single moment.”

The victory also moved Atlanta United (7-7-9) into a tie on points with D.C. United for the seventh and final playoff spot in the MLS Eastern Conference. D.C. United holds the tiebreakers and will play the Red Bulls on Saturday. Atlanta United will host Cincinnati on Wednesday.

Pineda made excellent use of the past two weeks of training. The Five Stripes looked like a totally different team than they were under Gabriel Heinze. The passes were daring and insightful. The runs decisive and aggressive. The players seemed full of confidence and ideas on how to create and attack gaps in Orlando’s formation.

The stats showed a one-sided performance: Atlanta United outshot Orlando, 18-8, and put more shots on goal, 5-2, through 85 minutes. It created 15 chances to Orlando’s six. It was the team’s sixth shutout this season. Orlando came in as the second-place team in the East.

“Part of why I’m happy about the victory is the opponent,” Pineda said. “They give more credit to three points. Orlando is a fantastic team.”

Pineda took a chance with his formation, electing to play a “false nine” that doesn’t have a true striker because the team’s best at that position, Josef Martinez, wasn’t available because he played for Venezuela in its World Cup qualifying game on Thursday. Instead, Pineda went with Luiz Araujo and Barco in the “false nine” roles, with a midfield of Marcelino Moreno, Santiago Sosa and Matheus Rossetto, wingbacks of Brooks Lennon and Jake Mulraney, centerbacks of Alan Franco, Anton Walkes and Campbell, and Brad Guzan in goal.

Also not available for selection were fullback Ronald Hernandez, who also played for Venezuela in its World Cup qualifying and tested positive for COVID while there, centerback Miles Robinson, who logged 270 minutes for the U.S. in its qualifiers in the past week, and midfielder Amar Sejdic, who is out with a muscle injury.

Araujo found space in the fourth minute and left-footed a 19-yard shot that slammed off the crossbar.

Rossetto followed five minutes later with the team’s first shot on goal from 22 yards. It was pushed to the side by Orlando’s Adam Grinwis.

Araujo missed wide with a shot in the 13th minute from 18 yards at the top of the penalty box. He was given the chance after a clever dummy of a pass by Barco.

Atlanta United broke through in the 25th minute on a goal by Campbell, the first of his career. The play started with a quickly taken corner kick. Moreno chipped the ball into the box where Campbell split two defenders to hammer a header into the lower left corner. The goal came on Campbell’s second shot this season and in his eighth appearance. It was Moreno’s fourth assist.

The goal was partially the result of scouting done by Atlanta United’s assistants. They noticed that Orlando could sometimes be slow to react to corners. That, combined with the team wanting to play as many two-on-one situations, resulted in the quick corner kick with Barco and Moreno facing one defender. Campbell, who was moving up for the set piece, continued his run and attacked the space.

“It was amazing,” Campbell said. “It was even more amazing because today is my mom’s birthday.”

Atlanta United increased its lead to 2-0 in the 38th minute. A free kick by Barco bounced off two Orlando players before going into the goal. The free kick was won when Moreno was taken down by Orlando’s Antonio Carlos just outside the penalty box in a good position for a cross or a shot. Barco combined the two with a low, hard hit of the ball just behind the group of defenders and in front of the goal.

Barco made it 3-0 in the 72nd minute when he danced around several Orlando defenders until he could create enough space to put a right-footed shot into the right corner. It was Barco’s fifth goal this season, setting his career high. Lennon was credited with the assist, his fifth.

His run behind Orlando’s defense was also part of the game plan. Pineda said they wanted to create moves and counter-moves to try to cause hesitation by the defenders and create one-on-one situations.

“It was effective,” he said.

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Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule

April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0

April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1

May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1,

May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1

May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

June 20 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0

June 27 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0

July 3 Chicago 3, Atlanta United 0

July 8 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

July 17 New England 1, Atlanta United 0

July 21 Atlanta United 1, Cincinnati 1

July 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Orlando 3, Atlanta United 2

Aug. 4 Atlanta United 2, Montreal 2

Aug. 7 Atlanta United 3, Columbus 2

Aug. 15 Atlanta United 1, LAFC 0

Aug. 18 Atlanta United 1, Toronto

Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, D.C. United 1

Aug. 28 Nashville 2, Atlanta United 0

Sept. 10 Atlanta United 3, Orlando 0

Wednesday vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 18 vs. D.C. United, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 25 at Philadelphia,3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 29 vs. Inter Miami, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 2 at Montreal, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 16 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, TBD, BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE