Atlanta United knows it needs three points from Seattle game Saturday

Atlanta United defender Alan Franco dribbles the ball during the first half of the match against Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field in Chicago, United States on Saturday July 30, 2022. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta United defender Alan Franco dribbles the ball during the first half of the match against Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field in Chicago, United States on Saturday July 30, 2022. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Atlanta United is starting to get some of its injured players back, giving manager Gonzalo Pineda quality in the lineup and choices that can be written in pencil instead of permanent ink, in case he changes his mind, which seems to be the case most of this season because those selected were among the last standing.

Now, with fullbacks Andrew Gutman, Brooks Lennon and Ronald Hernandez back in training and new signee Edwin Mosquera finally with the team, Atlanta United has 12 games to save its season, starting Saturday against Seattle at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Despite being shut out in its past two games and winning only two of its past 12, Atlanta United is only four points below the seven-team playoff line.

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“We need victories; we need three points,” Pineda said. “And yeah, I think the quality of the sessions just raised was naturally good. Andrew, with Ronald, with Brooks, with Edwin, losing the good players was really hard. I think just the quality of training sessions have been very good this week. So we just need to prepare ourselves for winning.”

Pineda has been in season-saving situations before when he was an assistant at Seattle under Brian Schmetzer. The Sounders became known as a team that would either start or finish slowly, but find a way to do damage in the playoffs. Schmetzer said one of the things that Pineda was good at in those turnarounds was going back to basics. Focusing on the defense first. If an opponent doesn’t score, that obviously improves your team’s chances of winning.

If that sounds familiar, that’s because defense is something that Pineda has focused on since the 3-0 loss to Austin five games ago. The team has allowed four goals in its past four games, reducing its season average to 1.5 allowed per game.

With that issue mostly fixed, the team can turn its attention to scoring. Despite being built to score goals, the team is averaging only 1.3 goals per game. It lead MLS in chances created (263) but it ranks 17th in big chances (33), 14 behind league leaders NYCFC. A big chance is a situation in which a player reasonably should be expected to score.

“I don’t think they are that far from the best Josef (Martinez), the best Luiz (Araujo), the best Thiago (Almada),” Pineda said. “I think it’s a bit of confidence, rhythm playing together again. I think it’s more up here (mentally) that they understand they are great players. And I believe in them.”

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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 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