Atlanta United needs three points Sunday from Miami game

Atlanta United midfielder Emerson Hyndman (20) looks to pass against the Seattle Sounders during the first half  Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

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Atlanta United midfielder Emerson Hyndman (20) looks to pass against the Seattle Sounders during the first half Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Atlanta United must start to improve the little things it’s doing wrong so that it can start to earn points, beginning with Sunday’s game against Miami at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, according to manager Gonzalo Pineda.

After losing its previous MLS match to Columbus 2-1 on May 28 because it made two key mistakes, it ranks three points below the seven-team playoff line, and seven points behind the fourth-place Red Bulls. Fourth place is an important goal because the team in that spot gets to host a playoff game.

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“We have to start to produce more points based on the good football they we’re producing,” Pineda said. “So we are in that key moment of the season where we have to start to fix some little things and start to get more points.”

Getting three points Sunday takes on more importance because the team will play its next three games on the road in places that it hasn’t traditionally generated positive results: at Toronto, at the Red Bulls and at NYCFC. The team is 1-3-1 at Toronto, is winless at the Red Bulls, and is 1-3-1 at NYCFC.

“It’s huge. I mean, anytime we play at home, we want to win,” Emerson Hyndman said. “It’s like anybody else in the league, you know, and especially with our stadium, our fans, the amount of attention we bring. So I think it’s usually important to get a result, especially before three away games in a row. So that’s massive.”

Other things to know:

Who will manage? Rob Valentino will manage the team because Pineda received a red card, which comes with a one-game suspension, against Columbus.

Valentino managed the team for eight games, going 4-2-2, in 2021 between the tenures of fired manager Gabriel Heinze and the arrival of Gonzalo Pineda. Valentino was retained by Pineda and given a new contract.

Pineda said once the game starts, the players always are in control.

Anyone else missing? In addition to the eight players listed as out on the injury report, the team also will play without midfielder Thiago Almada, who will serve the first game in a three-game suspension for a red card received after the Columbus game. The team may have to play without Santiago Sosa. He ran a fever Monday night that has progressed during the week, according to Pineda, who said that Sosa doesn’t have COVID-19. Sosa didn’t train Friday.

Aiden McFadden signed from Atlanta United 2 on a short-term agreement as a replacement for Tyler Wolff, who is one of the eight players listed as out. Wolff is with the U.S. Under-20 national team.

Will Hyndman start? Hyndman got his first start this season in Tuesday’s 3-2 win against Pachuca at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Pineda was very pleased with Hyndman’s ability to connect defense to offense, and his defense. With Sosa likely out, Almada definitely out, and Matheus Rossetto not playing Tuesday because of a “dead leg,” according to Pineda, Hyndman may be in line for his first start in a league game. Rossetto has resumed training.

“I feel a lot more confident than before the break and just getting those minutes from the start really helped me with my confidence, and I really just need to keep growing,” he said. “I thought for the first time out starting, I thought was pretty solid.”

Who will start in goal? Rocco Rios Novo made his first start of the season Tuesday and impressed Pineda to the point that he said Rios Novo will be in competition to replace Bobby Shuttleworth as starter.

Pineda on Friday said that the decision as to who will start Sunday will be decided Saturday.

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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 vs Miami, 3 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, 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