Atlanta United’s Santiago Sosa mostly pleased with start

Atlanta United midfielder Santiago Sosa #5 dribbles the ball during the first half of the match against Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field in Chicago, United States on Saturday July 30, 2022. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta United midfielder Santiago Sosa #5 dribbles the ball during the first half of the match against Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field in Chicago, United States on Saturday July 30, 2022. (Photo by Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

CHICAGO -- Santiago Sosa said he thinks he performed well in his first start for Atlanta United in more than three months in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Chicago at Soldier Field.

“We’ve been working really hard to get to this point,” he said. “And I’m happy that I’m back.”

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Sosa was paired with Matheus Rossetto in central midfield. It was Sosa’s fourth start this season. He helped the team post its fourth shutout. Sosa led the team in touches (72) and fouls conceded (six). He said he thought he played well defensively and can improve his passing. He completed a meager 70.9% of his passes and didn’t create a chance. The team was shut out for the sixth time. He said he missed some passes that he normally doesn’t.

“I believe that I’m going to help the team in the build up,” he said.

Manager Gonzalo Pineda offered a lengthy explanation about Sosa and his development this season.

Sosa underwent hernia surgery in November that resulted in him missing the preseason. He came on as a sub in the season’s fourth game. He came off the bench in the next game, and then started the next three. He missed the next game against Montreal on April 30 because he tweaked something in his leg. He came off the bench in the next game on May 7 against Chicago. He then suffered an adductor injury against Nashville in the U.S. Open Cup on May 11 that sidelined him until he came on as a sub on July 9 against Austin.

Atlanta United 0, Chicago 0

Like Atlanta United’s season, there have been more stops than starts for Sosa.

But Pineda said after a lengthy evaluation and consultations, he felt Sosa could start and go 90 minutes against Chicago.

Pineda said he likes the Rossetto-Sosa partnership because Sosa can drop in and play as a centerback and can also hit the long passes up the field.

“So the idea was to try to have a little bit more balance between Rossetto, who’s more of a playmaker, and then Santi, more the holding midfielder that can give balance to the team and I felt he was very good today,” Pineda said.

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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 9 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

August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 21 at Columbus, 5:30 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 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