Atlanta United’s Thiago Almada back from suspension, ready to help his team

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Missing three of Atlanta United’s games because of a red-card suspension felt like “an eternity,” playmaking midfielder Thiago Almada said.

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Almada was suspended following a confrontation with the referee following the team’s game against Columbus. Almada said he approached the referee because he felt offended by the fouls being committed against him and his teammates.

“It’s a learning experience,” he said. “I made a mistake to learn from, and we just move on.”

The team went 1-2-0 during Almada’s suspension. He returned to help the team secure a 2-2 draw at NYCFC on Sunday. He assisted Josef Martinez on the team’s first goal.

It was the first time this season that Almada, Martinez, Luiz Araujo and Marcelino Moreno started a game together. They will get another chance when the team hosts Austin on Saturday in the first of three consecutive home games.

They are games that Atlanta United needs to sweep if it hopes to improve its chances of making the MLS postseason. The team is in 11th place with 20 points. It is five points behind seventh-place New England, which holds the last playoff spot.

Atlanta United needs its attacking quartet, as well as Ronaldo Cisneros and Dom Dwyer, to start pouring in goals.

Almada wasn’t as sharp as the other three because of the games he missed, manager Gonzalo Pineda said after the game.

Still, Almada led the team in chances created (4) and completed passes in the opponent’s defensive third (13). His chipped pass to Martinez for his headed goal was centimeters-perfect.

Almada said he is building chemistry with his attacking teammates through every training session and every game.

“Playing together with those players is great,” he said. “We know the results haven’t been going the way that we want, but now we have three important home games that we’re going to try to win.”

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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 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, 5:30 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