Things learned from Atlanta United’s win over Colorado

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

As happy as Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda was with his team’s aggressiveness in its 4-0 defeat of Colorado on Wednesday, he was equally pragmatic about what must come next when the team plays at Chicago on Saturday.

“We have to show this every game, and that will be the demand from now on because now we cannot come back to not playing like this,” he said. “We can win or lose, but that is not important. What is important is that we always show the same attitude, urgency, and intensity on every action, and I felt like today we did a very good job of that.”

After playing as flat as the pitch at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in its previous four matches, all losses, Atlanta United set several season-highs against overmatched Colorado: shots (27), shots on goal (10) and expected goals (3.85). All three Designated Players, Thiago Almada, Luiz Araujo and Giorgos Giakoumakis, scored in the same game for the second time this season. Tyler Wolff scored his first goal in MLS. Goalkeeper Quentin Westberg earned his first shutout and the team’s third.

“Obviously, the more goals, the better for the team and confidence for certain guys,” said Brooks Lennon, who assisted on the goals by Araujo and Giakoumakis. “But I think, first things first, we kept a clean sheet. You start with that. As a defender myself, I am pretty proudful, proud of that moment. And we know our forwards, they have the talent; amazing talents. And we know we are going to score goals, so if we can keep clean sheets, we are going to be a dangerous team.”

It was a performance similar to those in 2017 and ‘18, when the team would score the important first goal and then pour on more late in games when the opponents were tired from chasing a result.

With the victory, Atlanta United improved to 6-4-3, including 5-1-1 at home. It is six points behind Cincinnati for first place in the East.

Here are three things learned:

Almada is a magician. Almada shook off missing a penalty kick to nail a 25-yard free kick. it was his third goal scored on a free kick this season and the team’s league-leading 10th from a set-piece. Colorado tried to distract Almada with delay tactics and then by lining up a player on the outside of the near post before he slid over to stand inside the goal, and then walked up behind the wall, but Almada still calmly drilled the shot into the upper left corner.

“Thiago is fantastic,” Pineda said. “He practices a lot in training sessions, the free kicks.”

Araujo snaps streak. Araujo snapped his eight-game scoreless streak with a brilliant run of more than 60 yards, ending it with a soft left-footed shot into the near post in the 80th minute. Araujo has three goals this season. After putting only one shot on goal in the previous six games, he put four on target against Colorado. Araujo declined to speak to media after the game.

Now, like the team, he just needs to keep going, according to Pineda.

“He has to create 10 to 15 chances in the final third where he is aggressive, his first touches are forward, he goes at people, and he has that confidence and ability within himself, and I think that is what he did today,” Pineda said.

Giakoumakis sparks team. After Almada scored the first goal in the 29th minute, Atlanta United couldn’t post the important second goal until Giakoumakis entered in the 53rd minute and the team began its all-out, non-stop movement.

Atlanta United eventually wore down Colorado, scoring its final three goals in the final 10 minutes. The team has scored 10 goals this season in the final 15 minutes of matches. Giakoumakis capped Wednesday’s scoring by assisting himself with a chip over the goalkeeper, catching up to the chip just before it crossed the goal line, and then hitting the volley into the roof of the net. Giakoumakis declined to speak to the media after the game.

“He is a leader,” Pineda said. “He is a guy that leads not with words, but with actions that show his intensity, his desire, and his hunger to score goals and help the team in any possible way.”

Pineda also said he was happy with Miguel Berry, who started at striker.

“I think that (Miguel) played with the same type of intensity and urgency as (Giakoumakis), but at times we couldn’t find him in certain spots, but I think both of them did a great job today,” Pineda said.

Atlanta United 4, Colorado 0 (match statistics)

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Atlanta United’s 2023 MLS schedule

Feb. 25 Atlanta United 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1

March 4 Atlanta United 1, Toronto FC 1

March 11 Atlanta United 3, Charlotte FC 0

March 18 Atlanta United 5, Portland 1

March 25 Columbus 6, Atlanta United 1

April 1 Atlanta United 1, New York Red Bulls 0

April 8 Atlanta United 1, New York City FC 1

April 15 Atlanta United 2, Toronto FC 2

April 23 Atlanta United 2, Chicago 1

April 29 Nashville SC 3, Atlanta United 1

May 6 Inter Miami CF 2, Atlanta United 1

May 13 Charlotte 3, Atlanta United 1

May 17 Atlanta United 4, Colorado 0

May 20 at Chicago Fire FC, 8:30 p.m.

May 27 at Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m.

May 31 vs. New England Revolution, 7 p.m., FS1

June 7 or Sept. 13 at Los Angeles FC, 10:30 p.m.

June 10 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

June 21 vs. New York City FC, 7:30 p.m.

June 24 at New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

July 2 vs. Philadelphia Union, 4 p.m., Fox

July 8 at CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 12 at New England Revolution, 7:30 p.m.

July 15 vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m., FS1

Aug. 20 at Seattle Sounders, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 26 vs. Nashville SC, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 30 vs. FC Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 2 at FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m.

Sept. 16 vs. Inter Miami CF, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 23 vs. CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 7 vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 21 at FC Cincinnati, TBA