Atlanta United’s offense may finally be finding its form

Credit: Chamberlain Smith/Atlanta United

Credit: Chamberlain Smith/Atlanta United

Atlanta United’s offense may be rounding into form just when it’s needed most.

The Five Stripes scored three goals in Sunday’s 3-2 win against D.C. United. It was just the fourth time this season that the team eclipsed two goals and the first time since May 7 against Chicago. It has scored at least two goals in four of its past five games. It was also the first time in 12 examples this season that the team was able to complete a rally after the opponent scored first.

Now Atlanta United is confident its form will continue during the next seven crucial games, starting Wednesday against Philadelphia, as it attempts to climb up the Eastern Conference standings and into either the sixth or seventh playoff spot. It trails sixth- and seventh-place Miami and Columbus by three points each.

“I expect us to score goals,” manager Gonzalo Pineda said. “It’s always good to score many goals, but it’s also good that we produce a lot of chances. That’s not the same. At times we create a lot of chances and don’t score, and at other times we try to get a lot of chances on goal and we don’t get that. For me, the performance of the team has been consistent in the attack in the last few games. We’ve been attacking well.”

The attack has improved partially because Pineda has finally been able to roll out a mostly consistent starting 11. Pineda has said he likes to know his best 11 by July and then let them carry the team. Because the team has experienced so many injuries – at least 20 instances that have resulted in players missing at least two games – it took until August for Pineda to figure out how to piece together his preferred 11.

The centerpieces of that 11 are Thiago Almada and Santiago Sosa, along with JuanJo Purata and Alan Franco up the middle of the formation. Almada, as an attacking midfielder, is proving to be a difference-maker with one goal and four assists in the past four games. Finally healthy, Sosa is becoming the ball-winning, ball-moving defensive midfielder that the team has lacked for several seasons. Purata and Franco are forming a good partnership as two of the team’s centerbacks. Each also scored in Sunday’s win.

“I think we have the ability to score multiple goals,” Almada said. “I think this is just the beginning. Once we start scoring more and more, it’s going to happen more often.”

Pineda is also figuring out roles for those on the bench.

Josef Martinez has come off the bench in three of the past four games to try to spark the offense. It worked against D.C. United. His header in the 62nd minute tied the game at 2 and came just two minutes after he was subbed on for Ronaldo Cisneros. Marcelino Moreno, Edwin Mosquera and Franco Ibarra are also being used specifically to help control games in the final minutes.

“Yeah, I think it’s more so just taking it game by game,” said fullback Brooks Lennon, who had two assists Sunday. “We know we have seven more games after this. We got the three points (Sunday night). We got the job done, and now we look forward to Wednesday against Philadelphia, who is a great team and look at get(ting) points there.”

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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 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 1

Aug. 13 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

Aug. 17 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, Columbus 2

Aug. 28 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2

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