Patience wanted for Atlanta United’s offense

Atlanta United manager Gabriel Heinze didn’t seem too concerned about Atlanta United’s offense after Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Orlando.

Through three games, the team has scored two goals. One came on a penalty kick. The other came in the final seconds. It put three shots on goal against the Lions, one of which came from midfield.

“We need to train more, play more games, and make mistakes to improve,” Heinze said. “Only one thing: We are talking about a collective sport with human beings and against another team that also worked to beat you.”

The offense was hurt Saturday by an inability to make that final pass, according to Heinze. The team created eight scoring chances and completed only 73 percent of its passes in the final third. It averaged 88 percent in the game.

“In general, I liked what I saw,” Heinze said.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan said the offense will continue to develop with patience.

Instead of Josef Martinez, who is working his way back from surgery on his right knee, Heinze started Lisandro Lopez at striker Saturday, Marcelino Moreno on the left, Ezequiel Barco in the middle and Jake Mulraney on the right.

Last season, Moreno often played centrally and Barco out wide. Lopez wasn’t on the team.

The quartet is still developing chemistry and timing. A look at the passing map for the game on MLSsoccer.com shows that Lopez received the ball most frequently behind Barco and Mulraney, instead of deeper down the field, which would be the expectation for a striker.

“We also need to have a little bit of quality with the final ball – whether it’s a final pass or a final cross – and the ability to shoot from distance and force teams to come out of the box and defend outside their 18-yard box and close guys down,” Guzan said. “And to know, ‘Hey, if you give us room, we’re going to shoot, and we’re going to score.’ So, just that final ball, that final pass.

“But with that being said, the patience is certainly coming along and being able to keep possession in the attacking areas.”

The offense should improve as Martinez continues to gain confidence and his teammates continue to figure out what each other are doing.

“Creativity is infinite,” Heinze said. “What we have to do is keep working to create more chances and to score. If you have more chances, you have more chances to score.”