Atlanta United figuring out best lineup, formation

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Because of numerous injuries and suspensions to players, Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda said he hasn’t yet figured out his best lineup and formation.

But now that players are returning to health, he said he is close to knowing how to best increase the probability of leading his team to three points.

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Starting Sunday at Columbus, the team will need every point it can earn from its remaining nine games in its pursuit of a playoff spot. The Five Stripes are four points behind Orlando for the seventh and final playoff spot. There are five teams between Atlanta United and Orlando.

“I always prefer after June, July, you have already your best 11, your best formation, and you start to just play with that lineup continuously, and the changes have to be minimal,” he said. “We haven’t had that. So that’s the ups and downs that you’ve been seeing. But we are trying to get there.”

Pineda said the injuries, which have forced him to use numerous formations, have robbed the team of an ability to develop consistency. He said that is why sometimes there are opposing players unmarked in key spots, such as the goal scored by Lewis Morgan, open at the top of a box after a deflection, in the Red Bulls’ 2-1 victory Wednesday.

Though the team still is without several players who suffered season-ending injuries, the remaining injured players have returned. That group includes Brooks Lennon, Andrew Gutman and George Campbell. Pineda said the additions have added quality to the training sessions, which should help the team play better in games.

In the past few games, Pineda has used a back four, one defensive midfielder, two attacking midfielders, two wingers and a striker.

“(Trying) to get the best lineup in the best formation for the last nine games of the season,” Pineda said.

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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 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 1

August 13 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

August 17 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

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