Gonzalo Pineda believes Atlanta United is on verge of breaking out

Sept. 18, 2021 - Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda, right, talks with forward Luis Araujo (19) during the second half of their match against D.C. United at Mercedes Benz Stadium Saturday, September 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Ga.. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

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Sept. 18, 2021 - Atlanta, Ga: Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda, right, talks with forward Luis Araujo (19) during the second half of their match against D.C. United at Mercedes Benz Stadium Saturday, September 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Ga.. JASON GETZ FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Though scoring goals is difficult for Atlanta United, manager Gonzalo Pineda said Thursday he is not going to change how he coaches and that he knows that the ball will soon start going into the net.

ExploreInfo to know: Atlanta United vs. Chicago

Atlanta United (3-4-2), which has scored only two goals during a four-game winless streak, will host Chicago (2-3-4), which is tied for the second-fewest goals allowed in MLS, Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“I feel like the last three games, we’ve been controlling the tempo of the game, we’ve been controlling pretty much everything,” he said. “We need to find a little bit more rhythm with the attacking players we have and try to find better movements, more runs in behind. So we put in a couple of reminders this week, and hopefully we can see something different is this game.”

In the past four games, Atlanta United has created 51 chances, with 24 shots on target. The team could count itself slightly unlucky because its expected goals total in those four games is 7.54. But it has only the two to show for the 360 minutes of work.

“Obviously we have to focus on getting the ball in the back of the net,” midfielder Matheus Rossetto said. “We try to every game, so yes it’s frustrating when its not going in.”

Pineda referenced the issues are the bad luck and poor execution in the final third. As he has said many times, the final touch, the final pass, the final run just aren’t consistent yet.

ExploreAtlanta United working on defending set pieces

“We are one of the best teams in possession, we’re trying to disrupt every team we face,” he said. “That’s how we attack, that’s how we create chances. We are working obviously to create better chances. We are perfecting these, again, the consistency of the lineups and how we can have more cohesion.”

Pineda believes that the more the attacking players, Luiz Araujo, Thiago Almada, Marcelino Moreno and likely Ronaldo Cisneros at striker, get to play together, the better the performances will be. He correctly pointed out that last week’s game at Montreal was the first time that Araujo and Almada, two of the team’s three Designated Players, started together. Injuries have prevented that in the previous seven games.

Almada created four chances; Araujo didn’t create any.

“It’s a lot of things, and that’s not magical,” Pineda said. “It’s not like you put three guys together, and they’re going to perform right away. So it takes time. Hopefully, it comes sooner rather than later.”

What the offense does may not matter if the defense continues to give up goals on set-pieces, such as the opener in the loss to Montreal. The team has allowed five this season. When a team is having trouble scoring, giving up goals on set pieces, and not taking advantage of its own, can compound the pressure.

Pineda said the team has worked on both this week. He feels the issues on defense are related to the players not having enough intensity to win the first or second balls.

ExploreMore AJC coverage of Atlanta United

The team has scored four goals on set pieces (non penalties) on offense on 145 accurate free kicks (not all of which were in the opponent’s half) and corner kicks, according to whoscored.com. Scoring on its set pieces may be the confidence boost the team needs.

“It’s about how we can work together to raise space for others or make tweaks or only put a good delivery there,” he said.

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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 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 1:30 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs Miami, 3 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

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

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE