Atlanta United getting healthy quickly



For the first time in, well, a time that memory can’t find, almost all of Atlanta United’s senior roster players participated in Thursday’s training session.

The lone exception was Erik Lopez, who is on the senior roster but mostly plays for Atlanta United 2. He is suffering from a badly sprained ankle.

Atlanta United (5-3-3) will host Charlotte (3-5-3) on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Overall, we’ve been pretty good on most of the injuries, which is something we pay a lot of attention and try to do a good job there,” manager Gonzalo Pineda said. “The sports science department is outstanding. My medical department is outstanding. So we feel very comfortable in that area. But yeah, having every one available is pretty good. Because, again, I have more options. The mood of the team is also better.”

The highlight of Thursday’s session was the return of goalkeeper and team captain Brad Guzan. He was expected to miss at least 10 weeks after suffering a torn MCL against NYCFC on April 8. Four-and-a-half weeks later, Guzan participated in the early parts of Thursday’s session with his teammates before joining the goalkeepers for their drills. Pineda said that Guzan still is not ready for game action and may not be ready soon.

Ozzie Alonso, who rejoined training last week, also participated, as did striker Giorgos Giakoumakis, who is tied for the team with five goals. He is recovering from a hamstring strain sustained in consecutive games against Toronto and Chicago.

Pineda implied that Giakoumakis likely won’t start against Charlotte, but there will be many opportunities soon. The team will host Colorado on Wednesday and play at Chicago on May 20.

Atlanta United averages 2.1 goals scored and is 3-0-2 when Giakoumakis starts and is unbeaten, 4-0-3, when he plays. It averages 1.25 goals and is 1-3-0 when he doesn’t.

“I prefer to build more conservative this time on how to use Giako,” Pineda said.

Having a large group of healthy players will help Pineda figure out his best starting 11, which he hasn’t been able to use because of the injuries sustained by Guzan and Giakoumakis, as well as competition at other positions, such as in central midfield, that hasn’t been sorted.

“I think we’re close to finding that chemistry in that best 11,” he said.

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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 vs. Charlotte FC, 7:30 p.m.

May 17 vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m.

May 20 at Chicago Fire FC, 8:30 p.m.

May 27 at Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m.

May 31 vs. New England Revolution, 7 p.m., FS1

June 7 or Sept. 13 at Los Angeles FC, 10:30 p.m.

June 10 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

June 21 vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m.

June 24 at New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

July 2 vs. Philadelphia Union, 4 p.m., Fox

July 8 at CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 12 at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m.

July 15 vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m., FS1

Aug. 20 at Seattle Sounders, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 26 vs. Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 2 at FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Sept. 16 vs. Inter Miami CF, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 23 vs. CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 7 vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 21 at FC Cincinnati, TBA