Tristan Muyumba needs to be ‘monster’ for Atlanta United in Game 3

The probability of Atlanta United winning Game 3 of its MLS playoff series against Columbus certainly will improve if Tristan Muyumba can have its second consecutive “monster” game.

Muyumba was a machine in Atlanta United’s midfield in Tuesday’s 4-2 victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He nullified Columbus’ Darlington Nagbe and Aidan Morris, a pairing that manager Gonzalo Pineda described as one of the best in MLS. Neither created a chance nor took a shot.

“He was everywhere,” Pineda said. “He was literally everywhere.”

Muyumba had a freer role within the tactics Tuesday so that he could press higher up the field. Behind him, Mattheus Rossetto and then Jay Fortune maintained their positional discipline. Pineda said the partnerships worked very well.

Muyumba will be the anchor of the midfield again Sunday. Rossetto may not be able to start because of a calf injury he sustained Tuesday. He didn’t train with the team Friday. Pineda said Rossetto was “day-to-day.” Fortune started Game 1, alongside Muyumba and Rossetto when the team was without Thiago Almada. If Rossetto can’t go Sunday, Fortune likely will be the starter.

Muyumba said he wanted to play well to show the true face of the team, which he saw wasn’t there in the 2-0 loss in Game 1.

“We just have to keep the game, to watch the game, watch what we did great and try to make the same game Sunday,” Muyumba said.

After watching film, Pineda and fullback Caleb Wiley were effusive in their praise of Muyumba.

Pineda said the angles that Muyumba chose and his spatial awareness were fantastic. Muyumba had two tackles and won 83.3% of his 12 duels.

“I think this game, he stepped up a little bit higher level, but he’s been pretty dominant almost in every game,” Pineda said.

Wiley said Muyumba had an “incredible game.” Muyumba’s ability to cover spaces allowed Wiley to get forward and join the attack more frequently.

“He understands the game really well, and he’s just a very impactful player for us, which he’s helped us a lot in the season,” Wiley said.

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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 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 3

May 27 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

May 31 Atlanta United 3, New England 3

June 7 Atlanta United 0, LAFC 0

June 10 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 1

June 21 Atlanta United 2, New York City 2

June 24 New York Red Bulls 4, Atlanta United 0

July 2 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 0

July 8 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

July 12 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

July 15 Orlando City 2, Atlanta United 1

July 25 Miami 4, Atlanta United 0 in Leagues Cup

July 29 Cruz Azul 1 (5), Atlanta United (4) 1 in Leagues Cup

Aug. 20 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 0

Aug. 26 Atlanta United 4, Nashville 0

Aug. 30 Cincinnati 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 2 Atlanta United 2, FC Dallas 2

Sept. 16 Atlanta United 5, Inter Miami 2

Sept. 20 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 1

Sept. 23 Atlanta United 4, Montreal 1

Oct. 4 Philadelphia 3, Atlanta United 2

Oct. 7 Atlanta United 1, Columbus 1

Oct. 21 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

Nov. 1 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 0

Nov. 7 Atlanta United 4, Columbus 2

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