Atlanta United looks to get offense on track Saturday vs. Cincinnati

022322 Marietta: Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda watches over team practice on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, in Marietta.  “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
022322 Marietta: Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda watches over team practice on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, in Marietta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Atlanta United will look to get its offense on track, control the best striker in MLS and remain unbeaten at home when it hosts Cincinnati on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

ExploreInfo to know: Atlanta United vs. Cincinnati

The Five Stripes are coming off a 1-0 loss at Charlotte. It was the second time in three road games they were shutout and their offense, playing without injured striker Josef Martinez, looked static for long stretches of the game.

Manager Gonzalo Pineda expects to see more movement off the ball and crisper passing and decision-making in this week’s seventh game of the season. Atlanta United is 2-0-1 at home and 3-2-1 overall. Cincinnati is 2-4-0.

Pineda said that Charlotte’s two strikers created problems for Atlanta United when the team tried to start its passing patterns. It didn’t help that often in the first half Atlanta United had few players running toward or away from the ball. The lack of movement made for fewer targets and easier defending. Cincinnati also will play with two strikers, including Brandon Vazquez, a former Five Stripes player who already has five goals this season.

ExploreBrandon Vazquez vs. Atlanta United’s centerbacks a fun matchup

“We worked a lot on breaking the first line of pressure, and hopefully that can start sequences for us in the midfield and then we worked also in the final third on ideas to get more chances because even though we had more and better chances than Charlotte, we didn’t create enough maybe to win the game, and we are conscious that we need to create more, and we’ve worked on that.”

The team ranks eighth in MLS in goals scored (9), but it can be argued that it is outperforming itself because its expected goals total is 7.5. That Atlanta United has scored that many despite using four different strikers, Josef Martinez, Dom Dwyer, Jackson Conway and Ronaldo Cisneros should be considered a compliment.

Cisneros likely will get the start Saturday, according to Pineda, because of his play off the bench in last week’s loss at Charlotte. The loanee showed pace and a determination that caused Charlotte’s centerbacks problems.

Because Pineda wants to see more off-the-ball runs, expect Cisneros to be a willing sprinter into space should his teammates try to play him through against a defense that has allowed 14 goals this season.

ExploreCisneros is 'going to chase ... going to press'

On defense, because Cincinnati typically plays with two strikers, expect Atlanta United to use Miles Robinson, George Campbell and Alan Franco in a three-centerback setup.

Stopping Vazquez will be job No. 1. Part of the plan will be to try to stifle Cincinnati’s three midfielders, led by Luciano Acosta.

“I think they’re very good on the ball, very dynamic, physically good,” Pineda said. “So we need to be able to try to win that duel in the middle of the field. Obviously the two strikers are always good. I think Vasquez is in a good momentum, is in a good rhythm, good form. I think he’s going to be key for their success, and we need to stop him to do that.”

ExploreMore AJC coverage of Atlanta United

For more content about Atlanta United

Follow me on Twitter @DougRobersonAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta United News Now

On Instagram at DouglasDavidRoberson

Atlanta United coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Southern Fried Soccer podcast can be found

Apple - https://apple.co/3ISD6Ve

Spotify - https://spoti.fi/3L8TN0C

Google podcasts - https://bit.ly/32KlZW3

If you are listening to us for the first time, please follow us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast...and if you like what you hear please give us a good rating so we can grow the show.

And the Atlanta Journal Constitution has a special offer for Atlanta United supporters and listeners to this podcast. If you subscribe today you will not only get unlimited digital access to the AJC and the Sunday paper for $2.30 a week but we are also throwing in a special limited edition Atlanta United and Atlanta Journal Constitution scarf. Sign up now at subscribe.ajc.com/utdscarf.

-

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 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., Peachtree TV

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 1:30 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

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, 6 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

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