JuanJo Purata helping Atlanta United’s defense play well

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Atlanta United accomplished three important things Saturday in its 3-0 road victory against Charlotte:

It posted its first shutout. In doing so, it successfully reacted after each goal it scored, and it knocked away 39 crosses, including five corner kicks, put in by Charlotte.

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Last season, Atlanta United gave up at least 12 goals from set pieces and at least five more in the moments after it scored.

“We felt very good for the clean sheet that we obtained in that game. It was important because we have been working on it,” centerback JuanJo Purata said. “Since preseason, we were wanting the clean sheet. And I think we deserve that.”

Through three games, Atlanta United has allowed two goals, tied for third fewest in MLS. Its 2.7 expected goals against ranks ninth fewest. Eight chances created against is sixth fewest.

Purata said he didn’t know that Charlotte put in so many crosses but acknowledged that defending so many was tough. Despite its repeated attempts, Charlotte put only three shots on goal out of 12 taken.

“It’s getting better day by day,” Purata said of the work between himself, Miles Robinson, Brad Guzan and Franco Ibarra. “I think we’re very solid. We have a lot of communication in the game during the game.”

Purata made sure to point out that in addition to defending well, two of Atlanta United’s goals scored started with plays when the team was defending. The first was an interception by Amar Sejdic that eventually resulted in the first goal scored by Caleb Wiley. The second was the team’s third goal. It started with a smart pass made by Robinson.

Purata was signed on loan last season to replace Robinson after he sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon. These first three games are the first times that he and Robinson have played together. Purata said they enjoy playing together. Their partnership also is keeping Luis Abram, signed just before the season, from starting.

“It’s only three games,” he said. “We have a lot of games ahead. So we’re working on it, and we feel good.”

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Atlanta United’s 2023 MLS schedule

Feb. 25 Atlanta United 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1

March 4 Atlanta United 1, Toronto FC 1

March 11 Atlanta United 3, Charlotte FC 0

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