There was some good for Atlanta United this season

While recognizing the disappointment of not making the MLS playoffs, Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda said he is proud of the culture that is being established at the club. It will play its regular-season finale Sunday against NYCFC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“Obviously, the results didn’t come together with that, but we feel like is the right thing to build,” he said. “I think one thing I’m very proud of is people know how we play, and that’s important when you get that from the players, and they buy into the idea of playing in a certain way. I think that’s the right foundation for what is coming.”

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The team is 10-13-10, including 8-3-5 at home. A victory Sunday would produce the same home record as the team had in 2021.

The foundation that Pineda wants is a possession-based, build-from-the-back strategy in hopes of creating more quality chances and goals than the opponent. Though Pineda has said he doesn’t rate possession if it doesn’t lead to shots, he also has said the best way to control the opponent is to dominate possession.

With that, Atlanta United has done well. It leads the league in shots (528), shots on goal (189), chances created (400), with Thiago Almada and Brooks Lennon leading the way, and corner kicks (216). It finished sixth in expected goals (1.54), 10th in big chances created (52) and 13th (47) in goals scored.

Another thing that Pineda was pleased with was the depth of the squad. Because there were 20 different instances of injuries that resulted in players missing multiple games, Pineda frequently was forced with making unexpected decisions for the starting lineup. He used 26 different combinations. Aiden McFadden and Ronald Hernandez were bright spots at right fullback. JuanJo Purata, signed on loan midseason, helped anchor the defense. Ronaldo Cisneros, signed on loan at midseason, finished second on the team to Josef Martinez with seven goals.

“I would say that in terms of performance was positive, then the results didn’t come in many games,” Pineda said. “But I think that’s a good sign. And then again, in certain moments, I felt that the mentality was the right one. Even when the results didn’t come, we showed some personality that I really liked. We never gave up.”

Among the starters, Almada was brilliant with six goals and 11 assists. Andrew Gutman looks like a future captain with two goals, three assists and an instinct to attack that is similar to what Greg Garza showed when he was with the club. Alan Franco rebounded from a rough start to form a good partnership with Purata. Caleb Wiley, who wasn’t expected to play much because he signed a Homegrown contract in training camp, logged almost 1,500 minutes.

“I think it was a good steppingstone into the future plans that the current coaching staff has for the team and kind of what rules are going to be around for next year and the identity of style of play, and just the aggression that we’re going to have after not succeeding this year,” Sejdic said. “So I think that’s kind of taking a bad year to make a good year.”

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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 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1

May 15 Atlanta United 2, New England 2

May 21 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

May 28 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 1

June 19 Atlanta United 2, Miami 0

June 25 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 1

June 30 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

July 3 Atlanta United 2, NYCFC 2

July 9 Austin 3, Atlanta United 0

July 13 Atlanta United 2, Real Salt Lake 1

July 17 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

July 24 L.A. Galaxy 2, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Atlanta United 0, Chicago 0

August 6 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 1

August 13 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

August 17 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

August 21 Atlanta United 2, Columbus 2

August 28 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2

August 31 Philadelphia 4, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 4 Portland 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 10 Atlanta United 4, Toronto 2

Sept. 14 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 0

Sept 17 Atlanta United 0 Philadelphia 0

Oct. 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

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