Rocco Rios Novo expected to compete for Atlanta United starting spot

Atlanta United goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo celebrates after helping the club defeat Alajuelense 1-0 in the Champions League game in Costa Rica on Tuesday.

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Atlanta United goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo celebrates after helping the club defeat Alajuelense 1-0 in the Champions League game in Costa Rica on Tuesday.

Goalkeeper Rocco Rios Novo was expected to arrive at Atlanta United on Friday and, as soon as he gets settled, compete for the starting goalkeeper job, manager Gonzalo Pineda said Friday.

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Rios Novo isn’t expected to be available for Sunday’s game at Miami. The goalkeepers will be Bobby Shuttleworth, who was in the net for Wednesday’s 6-0 win against Chattanooga in the U.S. Open Cup, and Justin Garces, who was called up from Atlanta United 2 on Friday on an emergency four-day contract. Brad Guzan, normally the starting goalkeeper, and Dylan Castanheira, a backup, both have sustained ruptured Achilles tendons and are out for the season.

Rios Novo spent time with Atlanta United and Atlanta United 2 last season on loan from Lanus in Argentina.

“I think we just want to go game by game,” Pineda said. “And I think Bobby is a reliable goalkeeper in the league. He has a lot of experience. So for now, he’s the one he’s going to start. But in the future, we don’t know, just as any other position.”

Pineda said he would like to have stability at all positions, but injuries to numerous players have prevented that.

Pineda said he liked what he saw from Rios Novo, who is 19 years old, last season in the team’s two Champions League games and in the USL. Pineda said that Rios Novo is good with his feet and, though undersized at 5-foot-10, has presence, personality and maturity.

Pineda said he had no update on the team’s reported interest in striker Matthew Hoppe because he didn’t know the team was interested.

“What I heard is we’re more focused on the goalkeeping situation,” Pineda said. “So they’re working very hard. And maybe that’s why they don’t even have time to communicate with me, what are the main targets? They will do it in time, they always do. So, I mean, we have to win this weekend. And that’s the main focus for now.”

Pineda said that injured striker Josef Martinez is starting his treatments after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee two weeks ago. Pineda said they want to make sure the knee doesn’t swell and then work will begin on strengthening the quadriceps.

“The timeline is just beginning, I would say,” Pineda 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 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, 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, 7:30 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

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

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