Atlanta United’s Luiz Araujo hoping for more goals, assists

Atlanta United’s Luiz Araujo took the fourth-most shots in Major League Soccer during the 2022 season. By his own admission, some of those shots weren’t the best or the smartest.

ExploreA look at Atlanta United's 2023 schedule

Looking ahead to the 2023 season, Araujo understands he needs to be smarter with his shot selection as he hopes to surpass last season’s total of goals (four) and assists (six).

“I think that’s one of my characteristics is to be able to take those long shots sometimes, but I’ve watched some videos with Gonzalo (Pineda) and seen some of the shots that I was taking and it’s something that I’m working on now,” said Araujo, who suffered a hamstring injury after scoring Atlanta United’s first goal in the 2022 opener against Sporting KC.

Araujo’s inefficiency was part of the team’s inability to consistently score last season. The team had the most shots in MLS in 2022, but only ranked 15th in goals scored.

The team ranked second in shots on goal, but its goals per shots on target was lowest in the league.

If looking for a silver lining, its nine goals scored from 18 yards or longer were tied for fourth-most. The average distance of its shots was a tick outside the 18-yard box, at 18.1 yards, according to fbref.com.

“We need to improve that by more shots inside the box in dangerous areas,” Pineda said last week.

Araujo could be one of those helping. Blessed with speed and dribbling skill, he has the tools to disrupt defenses. His decision-making in many areas sometimes let him and the team down last season. But it was that kind of season for the squad, which failed to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

Araujo said his personal goal is to score more and add more assists. He said the rotations at striker, which saw four different players occupy the position, didn’t affect him.

“I think the results last year weren’t what we wanted,” Araujo said. “Of course we want to make the playoffs, we want to be competing for MLS championships and my performances as well I think I can improve so that’s what I’m training for now.”

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Atlanta United’s 2023 MLS schedule

Feb. 25 vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 7:30 p.m.

March 4 vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m.

March 11 at Charlotte FC, noon, Fox

March 18 vs. Portland Timbers, 7:30 p.m.

March 25 at Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

April 1 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

April 8 at New York City FC, 7:30 p.m.

April 15 at Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m.

April 23 vs. Chicago Fire FC, 4:30 p.m., FS1

April 29 at Nashville SC, 1:30 p.m., Fox

May 6 at Inter Miami CF, 7:30 p.m.

May 13 vs. Charlotte FC, 7:30 p.m.

May 17 vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m.

May 20 at Chicago Fire FC, 8:30 p.m.

May 27 at Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m.

May 31 vs. New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m., FS1

June 3 at Los Angeles FC, 10:30 p.m.

June 10 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

June 21 vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m.

June 24 at New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

July 2 vs. Philadelphia Union, 4 p.m., Fox

July 8 at CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 12 at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m.

July 15 vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m., FS1

Aug. 20 at Seattle Sounders, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 26 vs. Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 2 at FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Sept. 16 vs. Inter Miami CF, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 23 vs. CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 7 vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 21 at FC Cincinnati, TBA