Atlanta United’s Marcelino Moreno adapting to new role

Atlanta United’s Marcelino Moreno has scored a goal or had an assist in five consecutive games, increasing his season totals to two and a team-leading five as the squad prepares to host Columbus on Saturday.

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Moreno credits the success to consistency in the lineup. One goal and five assists have happened with Ronaldo Cisneros, Thiago Almada and Luiz Araujo starting together.

“I think I’m working really well and combining well with my teammates,” he said. “It helps us a lot because ... we’re on the field together. We’re getting more minutes playing together, and we can have a better understanding.”

The team has scored eight goals in its past three games with the quartet combining to score seven.

Moreno’s production comes with a slight shift in position for him from an attacking midfielder over to the left wing. Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda doesn’t like to describe the positions of Moreno, Almada and Araujo as being set because the trio often will interchange. An average position/touches graphic from last week’s 2-2 draw at Nashville shows that each of the three, on average, most frequently received the ball in the center of the pitch before starting to cycle it around.

But instead of getting in each other’s way, which happened a bit when they first started playing together, the four are starting to develop more of an understanding of roles and movements.

Pineda complimented Moreno last week, saying he’s developing a better understanding of when to pass when he has the ball in the field’s middle third and when to attack with the dribble when he’s in the opponent’s defensive third. He leads the team and ranks 10th in MLS with 25 completed dribbles.

Moreno said his role is to provide assists this season instead of scoring goals. He is tied for seventh in the league in assists and has created 18 chances from open play, which is tied for 13th in the league.

He said it’s a role he had at his previous club, Lanus, before he joined Atlanta United in October 2020. Since joining the Five Stripes, he has more goal contributions, which is goals (13) plus assists (11) than any Atlanta United player in that span.

“I think now that we’re playing more together, the group has a better chemistry,” Moreno said. “So that can lead to more chances for us. And I think that’s the main difference that we’re seeing.”

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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 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