Atlanta United looks for second consecutive victory Saturday against Chicago

Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda said there will be lineup changes if players don’t show the same intensity against Chicago on Saturday that they showed in Wednesday’s 4-0 win against Colorado.

The victory over Colorado snapped a four-game losing streak, during which Atlanta United often played without an expected aggressiveness. The team set season-highs for shots (27), shots on goal (10) and expected goals (3.85) in posting its third shutout.

Now, Pineda said, it must continue. If some players don’t continue with the same intensity, he said they won’t start.

“I expect everyone to, to perform in that caliber,” he said. “I mean, tactics and soccer aside, it’s about the attitude and the willingness to do everything that’s in their power to win the game.”

Midfielder Santiago Sosa said the players know what they must do.

“Obviously the last home match against Colorado, I think was a good game for us,” he said. “We played with intensity. We made them feel the the home-field advantage. We had the ball, and we were the protagonist in the game. So that’s the path that we want to continue on.”

In their first meeting this season, Atlanta United defeated Chicago 2-1 on April 23 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It was a tough match. Chicago pressed Atlanta United when it had the ball in its defensive third. The Five Stripes had great difficulty breaking through against a very narrow Chicago formation.

But Ezra Hendrickson managed Chicago then. He was since fired, replaced by interim Frank Klopas. Chicago won its first game under Klopas, 1-0 against St. Louis, but was beaten 2-1 by Charlotte in his second. Charlotte rallied to win that match with two goals in the second half.

Pineda said he expects Chicago to play similarly as in their first meeting. To improve the probability of earning the team’s second road win, Pineda said his players also must be much better with the ball.

Atlanta United put only four shots on goal and finished with an expected-goals total of 0.91. It created only six chances, four by Brooks Lennon.

“I think the movement of the ball was very slow, too many touches,” Pineda said. “We were sloppy in our passes. We were not brave to break lines. And it was a little bit of monotony in our attack where, complacency. Oh, yeah, we’re at home. We’re gonna win. It doesn’t matter how we play, we’re going to win.

“No, every pass matters.”

Again, Sosa said the players understand what they must do. They learned their lesson in the Colorado game, compared with the previous matches.

“I think the biggest difference was the intensity that from the first minute we went out looking for the game,” he said. “And I think in respect to previous games, that was the main thing, that right from the beginning we were we were going for it.”

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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 Charlotte 3, Atlanta United 1

May 17 Atlanta United 4, Colorado 0

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