Atlanta United’s Andrew Gutman ready to help push team toward playoffs

Atlanta United fullback Andrew Gutman (right) is ready to help his team make a playoff push after he was sidelined nearly 10 weeks with a muscle injury. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

Credit: AP

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Atlanta United fullback Andrew Gutman (right) is ready to help his team make a playoff push after he was sidelined nearly 10 weeks with a muscle injury. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

Credit: AP

Atlanta United fullback Andrew Gutman said he had never sustained a muscle injury until he experienced a strained quad during the team’s 2-2 draw at Nashville on May 21.

Almost 10 weeks later, Gutman returned from that injury as a sub Saturday in the 75th minute of a 0-0 draw at Chicago. He said he wasn’t sure how he would feel day to day, but after completing his rehab, his shoulder and quads felt fine, and he’s ready to go for the season’s remaining 12 games, starting Saturday against Seattle at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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“I worked hard to get back to the full fitness a little bit earlier than expected,” he said. “So, yeah, I’m happy to be back.”

Gutman said his head was “all over the place” in his return as he adjusted to the fast pace of the game. Manager Gonzalo Pineda said he thought Gutman performed well in his return.

It was Gutman’s 13th appearance. He said watching the team’s struggles without him was tough. The team won only two of its next 10 games, which is why it is in 12th place with 25 points. The team trails seventh-place Cincinnati by four points for the seventh and final playoff spot.

The lack of results were a reflection of the team’s myriad injuries. Gutman’s return provided some stability, but it was offset Tuesday with the announcement that centerback George Campbell will be out for 2-3 weeks because of an adductor injury suffered against Chicago.

“It’s not an excuse, but it is something that, we can’t put together a solid lineup, a core group of players that can play together for 10, 15, 20 games at a time,” he said. “But on the other side, guys have got to step up, guys have got to fill in roles. And when their number’s called, they’ve got to play well.”

Caleb Wiley started in place of Gutman, and he may continue to start, but higher up the field as a left wing with Gutman playing behind him. Pineda has mentioned this possibility a few times because he likes what Wiley brings to the offense.

Gutman said his leadership and understanding of the game should help the team as it tries to surpass the four teams between it and Cincinnati.

“This part of the season is really tricky because a lot of teams can either dip or they can go on a run,” Gutman said. “So, for me, it’s kind of helping push us to go on a run because I think if we get one win, you know, then we get another, then we get another and in two or three weeks’ time, we’re going to be in (the) playoffs, and it’s gonna be a different story.”

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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 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

July 3 Atlanta United 2, NYCFC 2

July 9 Austin 3, Atlanta United 0

July 13 Atlanta United 2, Real Salt Lake 1

July 17 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

July 24 L.A. Galaxy 2, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Atlanta United 0, Chicago 0

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