Ozzie Alonso, Amar Sejdic nearing returns for Atlanta United

Credit: Curtis Compton/AJC

Credit: Curtis Compton/AJC

Atlanta United has reinforcements coming in the midfield. Ozzie Alonso (ACL recovery) and Amar Sejdic (calf) are expected to be ready for games soon.

“Very close. Very, very close. Probably within a week,” manager Gonzalo Pineda said about both players. “Very, very happy about it. Two important players in the midfield that are going to (fortify that group).”

Alonso, 37, underwent surgery in April 2022 after tearing the ACL in his right knee. It was a brutal blow for the Five Stripes as Alonso was off to a nice start during his first season with Atlanta United. The team has been cautious as he’s worked his way back. He’s been training normally for a couple of weeks, Pineda said, and the recent process has been more about him finding a rhythm.

The 26-year-old Sejdic has started 26 games across the past two seasons. He’s been sidelined since he injured his calf against Charlotte on May 13. His and Alonso’s returns should strengthen Atlanta United’s depth as it tries to stabilize following a frustrating start.

Wolff makes his case

Atlanta United was lethargic for much of its match Saturday at Orlando, yet it managed a draw, thanks to forward Tyler Wolff’s goal in the 86th minute.

Wolff, 20, entered only seven minutes earlier. He’s become a spark for Atlanta United, earning consideration for more minutes and perhaps even a starting role. He’s scored in his past two games, playing only 19 combined minutes.

“That’s how players, especially young players, push for starting positions,” Pineda said. “For sure, he will be in the conversations because this is multiple weeks he’s been very good. Not just in games, but in training sessions. So, of course he will be in the conversations.”

More Wolff minutes could help Atlanta United from an energy standpoint, an area that’s been a problem at times. A Snellville native, Wolff seems on track to establish himself as a key player moving forward.

“Obviously for young guys, it’s been tough playing here in Atlanta because there are so many talented guys,” Wolff said. “It’s pretty simple: When a young guy gets a chance, you have to take it. You don’t have much time to wait for your next opportunity. When you get in, you have to do something.”

Home versus road

Atlanta United was fortunate to tie Orlando City. It was another lackluster road performance. While they’re 5-1-1 at home, the Five Stripes are 1-3-4 on the road. Pineda said the club didn’t seem to hit its stride Saturday until the 60th minute.

“Urgency is not just intensity,” Pineda said. “The intensity has been there. I think that, at times, we aren’t all connected. Or one guy is intense and the other is resting a little bit. It’s about that urgency, meaning that everyone is on the same page. If we’re pressing, we’re pressing. If we’re in the attack, everybody is playing and moving. Everybody is moving for each other and creating space for others. That sense of urgency of scoring goals. I think it’s important.

“At home, we’ve been much better compared to when we play away. That, again, is something that we’re talking a lot with the players about why we change that much, home versus away. It’s normal that you change a little bit, but why the difference has to be that big. Something to correct. But now we have a game at home, and I hope and feel like we’ll have that sense of urgency from the beginning and I hope we’ll have a good game.”

Credit: Curtis Compton/AJC

Credit: Curtis Compton/AJC