While acknowledging that there are still several moving parts, Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda said Friday he is happy with the roster after he ran the team through his first training camp.

ExploreMore AJC coverage of Atlanta United

Pineda couldn’t participate in the first three days of training because he tested positive for COVID-19 and had to complete the health and safety protocols. Friday was his first day of running the team in a practice.

“I found the team, very energetic, very intense and very committed to achieve what we want to achieve,” he said. “So I think that’s a good mental statement from the players. They’re putting everything in training sessions. And I’m super pleased with, with what I saw today.”

Pineda took over midway through the 2021 season and led the team to 24 points from its final 13 games to qualify for the playoffs. It was defeated by eventual champion NYCFC in the first round.

Not all of the players were there on a very cold Friday morning.

Some, like Miles Robinson and Josef Martinez, are off with their national teams.

Some, like Ezequiel Barco, are excused while loans or transfers are being completed.

Some may still being pursued as additions to Atlanta United’s roster.

“I can be only focused on the players I have here,” Pineda said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do, trying to create the culture and the training habits that we need to build the style that we want to play this year. And I think I can’t be distracted with those things.”

Pineda lauded the depth on the roster at left and right fullback with George Bello, Andrew Gutman, Caleb Wiley, Brooks Lennon and Ronald Hernandez, and in the central midfield with Ozzie Alonso, Franco Ibarra, Santiago Sosa, Tyler Wolff, Amar Sejdic, Emerson Hyndman and Marcelino Moreno. Asked if there were other areas that he would like to see strengthened, he said there are still things happening, but that he is pleased with the plan.

“I feel confident that however the situation goes in the next few weeks are going to have even a better team,” he said.

With the players available, Pineda said they are working on establishing creating standards, habits and behaviors that the club wants to see on and off the field. Pineda said everyone wants to win. How the team wants to win also is important. As the training camp progresses toward the opener against Sporting KC on Feb. 27, Pineda said more work will be done on formations and tactics. He said the team is going to work more on playing out of a back four.

“We want to play style where the fans that we have a big, big crowd every every time we play in our stadium, and even outside of our stadium,” he said. “We want them to feel represented by us. We want them to feel proud for the style of football that we play. And obviously lifting trophies that’s always part of of the deal, right? We want to play good, but we want to play effective as well.”

Turning to individual players, Pineda praised Wiley, a 17-year-old who signed a Homegrown contract earlier this week. Pineda said he would have no issue playing someone that young if he wins the job in camp. He said George Campbell could step in as a third centerback should the team want to revert back to playing three at the back. He said he hasn’t thought about putting a minutes cap on Alonso, a 36-year-old midfielder who signed with the club as a free agent.

“You have to remember that when you touch the ball, the ball doesn’t know how old you are,” Pineda said. “The ball doesn’t know how much you make, the ball doesn’t know if you’re 16, or you’re 34, 37, 39, 40. They only move through the quality from the guy that kicks the ball.”

For more content about Atlanta United

Follow me on Twitter @DougRobersonAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta United News Now

On Instagram at DouglasDavidRoberson

Atlanta United coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1

March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 9 at Charlotte, 3 p.m., ESPN

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 2 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, 4 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, 7:30 p.m.

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