The team’s performance in the first half was similar to its first half in last week’s 4-1 win against Chicago. It had a majority of possession and was rewarded with goals by Thiago Almada and Luiz Araujo to take a 2-0 lead.
Things changed quickly, though. Alan Franco fouled Ake Loba in the penalty box a few minutes into the start of the second half. Hany Mukhtar converted the penalty kick in the 50th minute.
Atlanta United looked rattled.
“I felt again that in the first half we did a good job, and the idea was to start the second half the same,” Pineda said. “Be on the front foot, but then the penalty comes early in the second half and that mentally affected my players. We couldn’t find that momentum to come back to that kind of football, and when we did we lost the ball right away.”
Pineda said his players stopped making off-the-ball runs in the second half, which made it easier for Nashville to defend.
There were two more moments that were part of unfortunate trends this season.
Andrew Gutman had to be subbed off after suffering an injury to his right shoulder. Pineda said he didn’t yet know the injury Wednesday night because tests were needed. Atlanta United has already lost three starters – Ozzie Alonso, Brad Guzan and Miles Robinson – to season-ending injuries.
When Robinson suffered his Achilles rupture in the previous game against Chicago, Atlanta United’s players were noticeably and admittedly shaken for several minutes during that game.
The players appeared to bounce back more quickly Wednesday after Gutman was forced off in the 58th minute. But the team failed to put a shot on goal in the second half.
“As a captain or every day we talk during the games, being up 2-0 we knew that they were going to try to press us and do a lot of long balls and try to attack our back line,” Matheus Rossetto said. “We obviously made some mistakes. We stopped making those runs in behind, like Gonzalo said, but we cannot think back on it too much; we need to focus on looking forward.”
Nashville got its equalizer and it came on a secondary moment off a set piece, the seventh such goal Atlanta United has surrendered this season across all competitions.
It started with Atlanta United defending a long throw-in, something Pineda said they worked on a lot. After a few touches, C.J. Sapong’s header tied the game in the second minute of stoppage time to force two more 15-minute periods of play.
Ethan Zubak secured the win with a goal in the 93rd minute.
Atlanta United put two shots in target in extra time, but neither were particularly troubling.
The team will host New England on Sunday when MLS play resumes.
“It’s just about defending well or the angles, it’s about not sustaining possession of the ball in certain areas and progressing forward,” Pineda said. “(We) stopped attacking basically, and that’s what worries me a little bit. In those moments we need more composure on the ball and don’t give the ball away so easily.”
For more content about Atlanta United
Follow me on Twitter @DougRobersonAJC
On Facebook at Atlanta United News Now
On Instagram at DouglasDavidRoberson
Atlanta United coverage on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Southern Fried Soccer podcast can be found
Apple - https://apple.co/3ISD6Ve
Spotify - https://spoti.fi/3L8TN0C
Google podcasts - https://bit.ly/32KlZW3
If you are listening to us for the first time, please follow us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast ... and if you like what you hear, please give us a good rating so we can grow the show.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a special offer for Atlanta United supporters and listeners to this podcast. If you subscribe today, you will not only get unlimited digital access to the AJC and the Sunday paper for $2.30 a week but we are also throwing in a special limited-edition Atlanta United and Atlanta Journal-Constitution scarf. Sign up now at subscribe.ajc.com/utdscarf.
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 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