Many factors helping Atlanta United’s defense

There are many reasons that Atlanta United has posted consecutive shutouts for the first time this season heading into Saturday’s important MLS game at New England.

First, manager Gonzalo Pineda finally has been able to select the same lineup for more than two games.

Second, with that consistency, the team has done a better job of keeping the ball.

Third, Raul Gudino used his experience in goal to help the squad earn seven points in his past four starts.

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Put it together, and the team still has a chance, albeit unlikely, to make the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons. The team trails seventh-place Miami by two points, with two games remaining. If Atlanta United can post another shutout, it makes it that much easier to get an important three points against a Revolution team that has one win in its past eight matches.

“I think to just continue to do what we’ve been doing in the past few games, working well both offensively and defensively,” Gudino said. “And for me, it’s about being prepared for however many saves I have to make, whether it’s one, two or 20 -- hopefully it’s not 20 -- but we just have to be be prepared for whatever when those chances come.”

Pineda said he’s not a fan of goalkeeping stats because defense is about the entire team and not one position. But Gudino does have the lowest goals-against average among the four players, including Brad Guzan, Bobby Shuttleworth and Rocco Rios Novo, that the team has used as its goalkeeper. Additionally, three of the goals Gudino allowed came on penalty kicks.

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Pineda does like how Gudino has used his knowledge from playing for several teams, including Chivas Guadalajara, to solidify the back line. He also appreciates how Gudino understands moments of the game, such as when to slow it down.

“I don’t think he’s been also under a lot of pressure in many games, like he has had to prove his value as a goalkeeper many times, which helps,” Pineda said. “That means that is the whole team helping out on defending and holding, helping out to attack. So yeah, he’s been very solid. And we’re happy with what he has done so far.”

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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

August 6 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 1

August 13 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

August 17 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

August 21 Atlanta United 2, Columbus 2

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

August 31 Philadelphia 4, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 4 Portland 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 10 Atlanta United 4, Toronto 2

Sept. 14 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 0

Sept 17 Atlanta United 0 Philadelphia 0

Oct. 1 at New England, 1:30 p.m., UniMas