Atlanta United ready for FC Dallas, Texas heat

Atlanta United defender Brooks Lennon kicks the ball during the match against CF Montreal at Stade Saputo in Montreal on Saturday July 8, 2023. (Photo by Mitchell Martin/Atlanta United)

Credit: Mitchell Martin/Atlanta United

Credit: Mitchell Martin/Atlanta United

Atlanta United defender Brooks Lennon kicks the ball during the match against CF Montreal at Stade Saputo in Montreal on Saturday July 8, 2023. (Photo by Mitchell Martin/Atlanta United)

Atlanta United isn’t too concerned about the Texas heat entering its contest Saturday against FC Dallas. It’s supposed to be around 95 degrees when the teams begin play.

“We’ve been working the minds because people are talking about the heat, but that’s only an excuse,” manager Gonzalo Pineda said. “We train every day here (in Atlanta), the heat (is a factor here, too). Our training sessions are very intense. I expect that’s not an issue. We’re very well-adapted to that. We don’t have as an excuse. It’s a factor, but it’s not an excuse, for both sides, and we should be prepared.”

Defender Brooks Lennon: “I think everyone knows it’s going to be hot in Dallas. It’s hot here every single day. It’s very humid here, as well. So I don’t think it’s going to be crazy different from what we train in every single day. Just a mentality thing, blocking that out of your mind and focusing on doing our jobs.”

The Five Stripes are coming off a tough loss in which they lost to league-best Cincinnati despite a strong first half. FC Dallas is ninth in the Western Conference (9-10-6), having just lost to St. Louis 2-1 on Wednesday.

This will be Atlanta United’s third game in eight days, so it could consider resting some players, according to Pineda. “Maybe,” he said. “We’re not even 36 hours from the last match. We have to gather more information on the recovering process for each player, and once we gather that information, if everyone is good to go, they will go. If we need to rotate a few, we will.”

Atlanta United, which ranks sixth in the Eastern Conference, has seven games remaining before the playoffs.

“Just controlling moments of the game a little better,” Lennon said of where Atlanta United needs to improve. “But the way we’re playing in the last couple games, the way we’re moving the ball offensively, building out of the back, creating chances on goal, I think that’s all been very good.”

Notes:

-Forward Giorgos Giakoumakis has two goals over his past five starts, including consecutive games without scoring. Giakoumakis, who’s one behind the MLS lead in goals scored, will try to end that mini-drought Saturday.

“He’s been very good (physically),” Pineda said. “The last (two) games he hasn’t scored, which for his standard is not usual. But he’s a fantastic striker who brings a ton of energy and intensity to the field. That’s what he should be focused on. The goals will come. There’s no chance his work rate allows him to go three matches without a goal, I think.”

-Lennon on the season winding down: “Seven games left, Gonzalo talks about it all the time, seven finals for us. We need to take it one game at a time. I think we’re in a good position. One win puts us higher up the table. So we just need to focus on a game at a time, doing our jobs and executing the tactics we’ve set out for Dallas.”

Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda shouts instructions at the end of the second half in a MLS soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC