Atlanta United vs. Colorado: 3 things to watch

Atlanta United will play its first road game of the MLS season when it plays at Colorado on Saturday.

Though only its second game, it is an important game for the Five Stripes for many reasons, including a chance to again show its depth, a chance to show its character because the weather forecast is awful, and another chance to beat a quality team, something it didn’t do too often last season.

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Here are a few things to watch:

The weather. The forecast for Saturday in Commerce City, Colo., is a high of 37 degrees with a 74% chance of precipitation, including snow showers in the morning.

Manager Gonzalo Pineda said the weather won’t affect his tactics but will affect the game plan. He said he and his staff will try to adapt quickly, but he doesn’t see the team trying to do anything different from what it did in last week’s season-opening 3-1 win against Sporting KC.

“It’s just little adjustments here and there, but nothing dramatically different,” he said.

The team has a history of playing well in its second game of the season in poor conditions. In 2017, it earned its first MLS win in the snow in Minnesota.

Brooks Lennon said the key to staying warm is to put on as many layers as possible.

“It’s tough to prepare for tough weather conditions,” he said. “But I think this is a team and a group of guys that are willing to get a win no matter what the conditions are or the circumstances.”

Right wing. Luiz Araujo is out for at least four weeks with an injured hamstring, opening the door for Pineda to explore the squad’s depth. He said that he has decided who will play the position Saturday, but declined to say who he selected.

Dom Dwyer came off the bench and scored a goal last week when Araujo was forced off in the first half. Lennon finished the game at right wing. Normally a fullback, he said it’s a position he’s comfortable playing. Other candidates are Marcelino Moreno, who had an assist last week and Tyler Wolff, who played left wing but also can play on the right. Unavailable for selection are Machop Chol and Jake Mulraney, who are injured, and Thiago Almada, who is in Argentina securing his visa.

Character. Atlanta United showed improved character in last week’s win. Leading 2-0, Sporting KC scored a late goal on a set piece to cut its deficit in half. Last season, Pineda said that would have resulted in metaphorical dark clouds throughout the domed stadium. The team dropped 13 points last season from winning or tied positions after the 75th minute.

Instead of wilting, Atlanta United scored a third goal to secure the three points.

Saturday will present another opportunity. Colorado, which was beaten at LAFC 3-0 in its first game, won the Western Conference last season. Though it has sold or traded a few of the players that helped the club achieve that impressive feat, it is still quality.

“I think that’s a testament of the resilience of the team,” Pineda said. “And what we learned from last year was basically how to overcome adversities. And I think the team, the players did fantastic in that regard. We just need to continue with that process of whatever happens on the field or whatever adversity, we’re in a phase, the weather, the field, the opposition, we have to find ways to win, we need to find ways to win and to get the three points.”

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1

March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 10 at Charlotte, 1:30 p.m., ABC, ESPN Deportes

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

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, 2 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