Atlanta United’s Aiden McFadden does well in MLS debut

Atlanta United's Aiden McFadden dribbles the ball during the first half of a match against Toronto FC on Saturday. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

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Atlanta United's Aiden McFadden dribbles the ball during the first half of a match against Toronto FC on Saturday. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Unexpectedly thrust into the starting lineup minutes before Atlanta United’s 2-1 loss at Toronto started on Saturday, Aiden McFadden felt he played well but there is room to improve.

“That’s kind of how I’ve always been,” he said. “I think I need to learn a bit more how the other guys play. Again, this is really the first significant game I’ve gotten to play, except a couple other times in preseason. I still have a lot to prove and I can give more, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

McFadden, a regular starter for Atlanta United 2, was given his first start in MLS because Brooks Lennon suffered a yet-to-be-known injury to his left knee during warmups before the game. McFadden, selected in the 2021 draft, signed a 45-day agreement with the first team June 17 as cover because of injuries to fullbacks Ronald Hernandez and Andrew Gutman.

“I still have a lot to prove and I can give more, so that's what I'm going to do."

- Atlanta United's Aiden McFadden, after his MLS debut

McFadden finished Saturday’s game with three shots, none on goal, nine recoveries, two dribbles completed and one attempted cross.

“I think he did very well,” manager Gonzalo Pineda said. “I don’t know what you guys see from outside, but from the field I think that he had a tremendous game, actually. I’m very pleased with him because he showed a lot of character, not a lot of defensive mistakes, he was progressing the ball very well, attacking very well, winning his duels, most of his duels. He was one of the players who had a good game (Saturday night).”

Depending upon the severity of Lennon’s injury, McFadden may get to start the next games at Red Bulls on Thursday and at NYCFC on July 3. He has frequently trained with the first team since the preseason so he has some familiarity with his teammates’ tendencies.

McFadden said the start caught him off guard, and he doesn’t know if not having time to think about it was a benefit.

“I’ve definitely been looking forward to this, and it’s what I’ve been working toward,” McFadden said. “You don’t always know when an opportunity is going to present itself, but I felt like being a part of this group since preseason has gotten me ready, and I just went out there and tried to express myself and had a lot of fun. Obviously, the result is not what we wanted, but we’re going to keep growing and keep pushing on.”

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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 Atlanta United 2, Miami 0

June 25 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 1

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, 5:30 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