Atlanta United working on defending set pieces

CF Montreal's Kamal Miller (3) goes up for the ball and scores against Atlanta United during the first half of an MLS soccer game last Saturday in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

Credit: AP

caption arrowCaption
CF Montreal's Kamal Miller (3) goes up for the ball and scores against Atlanta United during the first half of an MLS soccer game last Saturday in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

Credit: AP

Atlanta United has spent a lot of time during this week’s training sessions trying to improve its defending of set pieces, manager Gonzalo Pineda said Thursday. The team will host Chicago on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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The team gave up a goal in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Montreal when Kamal Miller headed in a free kick from close range. It was the fifth goal from a set piece (non-penalty kick) allowed by the team through nine games. The team has allowed 13 goals this season. Chicago has yet to score on a set piece this season.

“It’s not about, for me, the height on this,” Pineda said. “The concentration and working together and the intensity and the mentality that we put on set pieces is everything we do in football.”

Fullback Andrew Gutman said something similar after the defeat at Stade Saputo.

“It’s not who’s more skillful or who’s a better player,” he said. “It’s just who wants it more, and for us it’s life or death inside the box. We have to get to a mentality where there’s no chance that you’re going to win the ball over me. There’s no chance that you’re going to push me and you’re going to get the first header on it. And I think that’s just kind of what we’re lacking right now.”

Don’t expect the team to switch from the zonal marking that Pineda prefers to a man-marking system. He said he doesn’t think the team is leaking goals because of the tactic.

“I‘m not big on making dramatic changes to things I think we haven’t been that bad in certain moments,” he said. “I think it’s more the application of one or two things that we need to fix.”

He hinted there may be some change to how they defend set pieces, saying he will talk about that after Saturday’s game.

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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 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, 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

Aug. 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

Aug. 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

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

Aug. 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

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