Atlanta United has chance to show it’s back against L.A. Galaxy

Atlanta United defender George Campbell #32 dribbles the ball during the match against Real Salt Lake at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, United States on Wednesday July 13, 2022. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

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Atlanta United defender George Campbell #32 dribbles the ball during the match against Real Salt Lake at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, United States on Wednesday July 13, 2022. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

After last week’s draw with Orlando, Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda was so pleased with the team’s successful effort to rally and its play that he said that “the team is back.”

This was only two games, one team meeting, one player speaking his mind and a whole lot of introspection since the imploding against Austin.

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While Pineda’s proclamation may seem optimistic if not premature, his team will get a chance to prove him right Sunday when it plays at L.A. Galaxy, a team that is experiencing some of the same issues Atlanta United was.

“I think the chemistry of the team is just better,” Pineda said Thursday. “We’re back. And I’m just happy that happened (Austin result). And obviously, we’re just waiting for the next game. And that’s always ... we live and die for the next game.”

Speaking of chemistry, Atlanta United and playing on the road have been a combustible mix this season. The team is 1-6-2 away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium this season. It’s a record that must improve if the team hopes to increase the probability of making the MLS playoffs. It is three points behind Cincinnati for the seventh and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and five behind sixth-place Columbus. Atlanta United has played one game less than Cincinnati.

Pineda said that for the team to win three points against the Galaxy, it must keep doing what it did to earn four points from its past two games against Real Salt Lake and Orlando. That includes creating numerous scoring chances while maintaining formational discipline on defense.

In its past four games, the team is tied for the league lead in shots (72), is first in shots on goal (27), seventh in expected goals (7.53) but tied for 12th in goals scored (6). On defense, the team ranks 27th among the 28 MLS teams in goals allowed (9). But in its past two games it has allowed just two goals. That has coincided to a switch from playing with only two centerbacks to playing with three.

“I think we’ve been pretty solid the past few games, but I think we need to keep that up and show really the next game that on the road that we can be a team that’s tough to beat, and we can be the better team on the ball,” centerback George Campbell said Thursday.

A key for Atlanta United to stopping the Galaxy is to try to contain strikers Javier Hernandez, who missed the past two games because he was in the health and safety protocols, and Dejan Joveljic, who have combined for 15 goals.

Pineda said he’s known Hernandez, commonly known as Chicharito, since 2006 when he debuted for Chivas. Pineda was his teammate. Hernandez has 109 caps with 52 goals for Mexico’s national team.

“I really like to see the development of him because I still remember the first few training sessions with him and the passion he showed for every training session,” Pineda said. “Then he has had a great, great career. And everything through hard work, and just a lot of grinding in the early stages. So I’m very happy for his success.”

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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 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

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