Atlanta United gets another chance to improve road record

There is a commonality between the seven teams below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta United, one of those teams, is an example. The Five Stripes, who will play at Chicago on Saturday, have taken only five of a possible 30 points from their road games.

New England is the only team that is below the line that has reached 10 points won from road games this season. Of those above the line, NYCFC has the fewest road points won, 14.

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That points gap is part of why Atlanta United must improve its road record if it hopes to climb the standings and make the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.

“Well, I believe if we win, we’re going to improve that record,” Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda said. “I felt that in many, many games we’ve played on the road because when you just talk about the record, you’re not analyzing anything, you’re just talking about the results, but you’re analyzing game by game, who was the best team on the field? And I felt like in many of those that we lost, we were the better team. Little details make us lose points that probably we shouldn’t have.”

Chicago is one of those teams below the line. The Fire have won three consecutive, including notching their second road win at Vancouver last week. The streak has pushed the team to 26 points, two more than Atlanta United, and two behind Cincinnati for the seventh and final playoff spot. Just four points separate Chicago, New England and Charlotte, tied with 26 points, from 13th-place Toronto.

It’s a big pack of teams in the hunt, but Pineda said there is no extra pressure.

“Pressure is in everything we do,” he said. “When you are in Atlanta United, you want to win every game. When that doesn’t happen, you have the same amount of pressure.”

Fullback Aiden McFadden said that pressure is good.

“We want to get better,” he said. “I mean, regardless of the points, that’s the goal as a professional athlete to get better. So that’s what we’re doing today.”

And McFadden said that despite the team winning only two of its past 11, it is improving.

“We’re playing against a bunch of other very good teams. I think it’s just about getting the pieces to fall the right way,” he said. “We’re working on it. I think it’s a tricky thing, a lot of different pieces. And sometimes certain guys are probably doing what’s best for them and other guys are struggling a bit, and then it switches. We need to have consistency throughout the team. And hopefully, then some results will come, but I think it’s coming. I really do.”

When the improvement happens, the goals start coming and possibly the results, too, Pineda said there will be more belief.

“So these moments where we are not there, it’s important that we all come together,” he said. “And we believe in the process, we trust the process because what we do every day in training sessions is very good. And then most of the games I felt that we played very good. But we haven’t collected points.

“So now is the moment to continue. Just keep going, head down. Just work, work harder, work a little bit better, work a little bit more smarter, come together. And it’s very important now, and then we’ll start to produce points.”

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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 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

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

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE