Injuries not deterring Atlanta United against Philadelphia on Sunday

Atlanta United defender Brooks Lennon #11 challenges for the ball during the first half of the match against Orlando City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Sunday March 17, 2024. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Atlanta United)

Credit: Alex Slitz/Atlanta United

Credit: Alex Slitz/Atlanta United

Atlanta United defender Brooks Lennon #11 challenges for the ball during the first half of the match against Orlando City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA on Sunday March 17, 2024. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Atlanta United)

Though Gonzalo Pineda said Atlanta United’s accumulation of injuries is disappointing and frustrating, morale and expectations remain high going into Sunday’s match against Philadelphia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The team will be without starting centerbacks Stian Gregersen (knee) and Derrick Williams (calf), starting winger Xande Silva (adductor), backup striker Jamal Thiare (hamstring) and leading scorer Giorgos Giakoumakis.

Atlanta United is unbeaten in three home matches, with nine goals scored and one allowed.

“I think that it’s also a good opportunity for some other guys to come here and show in a home match that they want to compete,” he said. “So for me, it’s part of football, and we need to adapt.”

Centerback Noah Cobb, who was promoted to the starting lineup when Gregersen sustained his injury three matches ago, said his experience coming off the bench and helping the team earn four points during that stretch is evidence that the team can withstand the injuries.

“It’s a next-man-up mentality,” he said. “Then when the group gets to full strength, the better the depth pieces are, the better ultimately, the entire group is.”

The next men up likely will be Daniel Rios at striker, Luis Abram at centerback, and either Tyler Wolff or Edwin Mosquera at winger. Fullback Brooks Lennon said Rios has had a good week in training. Rios missed the past two matches because of an injury.

To help prepare the depth pieces mentally and physically, as well as others who haven’t gotten a lot of playing time, the team conducted a 60-minute scrimmage on a rainy Tuesday at its training center in Marietta. Pineda said the match was intense, and the data tracked by the team reflected that.

“I felt that the ideas of the team were there, we were building very good on unbalancing their midfield very well,” he said. “The final third was lacking a little bit of creation in there. But even without we played a few good chances. So it was really, really positive. The outcome of the match was really good.”

The injuries come at a particularly bad time for Atlanta United because Sunday’s match will be the first of four at home out of its next five. They will provide the team’s best opportunity to win enough points to move into the top four and perhaps create a cushion for later in the season when it will play more away matches.

It’s possible that Giakoumakis returns next week. Gregersen has been doing work in the gym, so he also may return next week. Thiare and Williams are likely to miss the stretch of games based upon the three-to-four-week timetable to return put out by the club Monday.

“I don’t think the approach changes at all,” Cobb said. “I think when you’re at home, it’s three points or it’s definitely not good enough. So I think, especially with Philadelphia coming up ... it’s a good team, they’re near the top of the table. So I think getting three points against them at home is going to be really, really important.”

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Atlanta United’s 2024 schedule

Feb. 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

March 9 Atlanta United 4, New England 1

March 17 Atlanta United 2, Orlando 0

March 23 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 0

March 31 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 0

April 6 Atlanta United 1, NYCFC 1

April 14 vs. Philadelphia, 2:30 p.m., FOX

April 20 vs. Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

April 27 at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

May 4 vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.

May 11 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

May 15 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

May 18 at Nashville, 1:30 p.m.

May 25 vs. LAFC, 7:30 p.m.

May 29 at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

June 2 vs Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FOX

June 15 vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m.

June 19 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

June 22 at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.

June 29 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

July 3 at New England, 7:30 p.m.

July 6 at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m.

July 13 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 17 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

July 20 vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m.

July 26 vs. D.C. United in Leagues Cup, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 4 vs. Santos Laguna in Leagues Cup, 4 p.m.

Aug. 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Nashville, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Orlando, 6 p.m.