Gonzalo Pineda loves energy of Atlanta United’s first session led by him

Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda is interviewed by journalists after his first day of running training for the MLS team in Marietta, Ga. on August 24, 2021.
Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda is interviewed by journalists after his first day of running training for the MLS team in Marietta, Ga. on August 24, 2021.

Credit: Doug Roberson

Credit: Doug Roberson

Atlanta United’s Gonzalo Pineda said he liked the energy shown by the players in their first training session under him Tuesday.

“I just want to keep it up,” he said.

Pineda was named Atlanta United’s manager almost two weeks ago. Because he tested positive for COVID-19, and because of the team’s schedule of games, he hadn’t yet been able to lead a practice.

Tuesday’s session ended with a competitive game, something Pineda said he likes to do. The team was broken up into four smaller teams of five and played several games against each other on a smaller field. Pineda could be heard shouting encouragement to the players during the games, which lasted a few minutes each. Pineda said he likes to see in the games if the players show what the team worked on during training.

After training, Pineda met with media members before he was scheduled to meet with the team to give them his message for the rest of the season. Pineda didn’t want to go into details about what he was going to say to them. The team, which has won its past four games, will host Nashville on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Most of Atlanta United’s players trained Tuesday. Missing were centerback Miles Robinson and fullback George Bello because they are at the league’s All-Star festivities in Los Angeles. Also missing were midfielders Santiago Sosa, Franco Ibarra, Jake Mulraney, Mo Adams and Amar Sejdic. Mulraney was jogging around the training fields after practice. Striker Jackson Conway and winger Machop Chol didn’t participate because they played for Atlanta United 2 on Sunday. Midfielder Emerson Hyndman is out for the season.

Pineda said he is not committed to one formation, but he likely will continue to play with three centerbacks, a formational switch put in by interim manager Rob Valentino. It is a formation that Pineda, with the approval of manager Brian Schmetzer, switched to in his previous job at Seattle before the season. Pineda also said he prefers to keep the same personnel within the same lineups so that there is consistency.

During the training sessions, Pineda said he wants to improve the connectivity between the centerbacks and midfielders. He also wants to get the wingbacks more involved in the attacks.

“So in some ways, I’m always looking for different shapes,” he said.

Tactically, Pineda said he prefers zonal marking on set pieces, but that he needs to speak to the players because he wants things to be collaborative. As for the defense, he said he wouldn’t commit to zonal or man-marking. Instead, he prefers that the team defend as a collective.

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Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule

April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0

April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1

May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1,

May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1

May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

June 20 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0

June 27 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0

July 3 Chicago 3, Atlanta United 0

July 8 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

July 17 New England 1, Atlanta United 0

July 21 Atlanta United 1, Cincinnati 1

July 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Orlando 3, Atlanta United 2

Aug. 4 Atlanta United 2, Montreal 2

Aug. 7 Atlanta United 3, Columbus 2

Aug. 15 Atlanta United 1, LAFC 0

Aug. 18 Atlanta United 1, Toronto

Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, D.C. United 1

Aug. 28 vs. Nashville, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 10 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 15 vs. Cincinnati, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 18 vs. D.C. United, 3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 25 at Philadelphia,3:30 p.m., Univision

Sept. 29 vs. Inter Miami, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 2 at Montreal, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 16 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, TBD, BSSO/BSSE

Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

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