Atlanta United’s Matheus Rossetto trying to be more aggressive

Credit: Brandon Magnus/Atlanta United

Credit: Brandon Magnus/Atlanta United

Matheus Rossetto’s preseason got off to a good start with a goal scored Saturday at Atlante in their friendly in Mexico.

A goal also is a reason to celebrate, though Rossetto didn’t because he said he just wanted a few seconds to catch his breath because they were playing at a high altitude.

For Rossetto, though, it may be a sign that he is going to get forward and attack more frequently with his runs and his passing.

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“That’s something that I spoke with Gonzalo (Pineda) about last year, and I wouldn’t say that it went perfectly,” he said. “But this is a different year. So that’s something that I’m trying to do, and the last game I felt like I was playing more passes forward and trying to get into the box more.”

Rossetto divides opinion among Atlanta United supporters because of his tendency to play safe passes. He has only one assist in almost 3,800 minutes with the team playing in a league that frequently honors secondary assists. His goal against Atlante was his first since scoring against Birmingham’s reserves in a friendly in 2020.

Rossetto explained, saying that he frequently has had to play as a defensive midfielder whose job is to stay back and protect the centerbacks. He can also play as a central midfielder whose job is to be an integral part of the team’s build-up play when it has the ball. He said he played that position in Brazil before he came to Atlanta United, and he is comfortable doing so.

Paired with Franco Ibarra, who also can play either position, was Rossetto’s role against Atlante.

Rossetto said the play before his goal started on the left with Thiago Almada. He passed the ball to Rossetto. No Atlante player stepped up to defend him, so Rossetto said he kept attacking and the shot the ball into the lower right corner to tie the score at 1-1.

“I think we did a good job,” Rossetto said. “We’re on the right path.”

It’s likely that Rossetto and Ibarra will be the starters for the season’s first two games, against San Jose and Toronto, because Santiago Sosa will be serving a suspension.

Pineda said it was hard to judge Rossetto and Ibarra against Atlante because it played a unique formation that resulted in very few players in the middle of the field and the majority on the wings when it had the ball. Because of the tactics, Atlanta United didn’t get many chances to implement what it has been working on. When Atlante didn’t have the ball, it pressed man-to-man all over the field. Pineda was able to glean information in those sequences.

“They were great, and the intensity they played in the midfield solving the one-on-one was pretty good,” Pineda said.

Pineda may get another chance when the team plays at Cruz Azul on Wednesday in its third friendly and last one in Mexico. The team will return to Atlanta on Thursday.

“We played together, and we have good communication on the field,” Rossetto said of Ibarra. “So if I go to press, he’s behind me or if he goes, then I’m staying behind him. So I think we’re still improving, and we still have things to improve on. But I think we did a good job.”

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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