While ‘everything is going crazy outside,’ Atlanta United will simplify

Slumping team faces Charlotte Independence in U.S. Open Cut Tuesday
Maccabi Haifa's goalkeeper Josh Cohen, right, vies for the ball with PSG's Neymar during the group H Champions League soccer match between Maccabi Haifa and Paris Saint-Germain in Haifa, Israel, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Maccabi Haifa's goalkeeper Josh Cohen, right, vies for the ball with PSG's Neymar during the group H Champions League soccer match between Maccabi Haifa and Paris Saint-Germain in Haifa, Israel, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Manager Gonzalo Pineda said on Monday that Atlanta United is going to simplify a few unspecified things, starting in Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup match against Charlotte Independence at Kennesaw State.

The change is partially sparked by the team’s 2-1 loss to Minnesota, which increased its stretch of winless matches to five.

“Everything is going crazy outside and in here, we have a good system, we have a good process in place,” he said. “We just need to simplify a couple of things and come back to a little bit of self belief, self confidence. It’s not like the performance is down here. Like as the results show, I think we’re not that far from clicking a couple of things, especially in attack, and then I think we can, we can be very dangerous still.”

Pineda wouldn’t say if Tuesday’s lineup will be a mix of veterans with less-experienced players, or mostly less-experienced players or if players will be brought up from Atlanta United 2 to help fill the roster. The team, in the past, has mixed the two for lower round U.S. Open Cup matches. Sometimes it has worked. Last year it didn’t. It was beaten by Memphis in its first match in the tournament.

Pineda also declined to describe Charlotte, which plays in USL League One, and what it may be able to do to hurt Atlanta United. Pineda said he is instead focusing on Atlanta United. Pineda did say that he thinks Charlotte, which plays in USL League One, will come out with aggressively.

“We have to match that intensity, that mentality and we have to start on the front foot,” he said. “We have to counter that with football but also good attitude, I think. We have to, since the very beginning, trying to make the statement that yeah, we should win this game.”

One thing that is known is that Josh Cohen will start in goal. Cohen, who signed with the club during the winter window, was made available to speak to journalists on Monday. Cohen has yet to start a match for Atlanta United but has two shutouts in two appearances with Atlanta United 2.

Pineda said he has been very pleased with Cohen’s professionalism and his attention to detail in every training session and match. He said he is earning the respect of his teammates.

“I‘m excited to get out on the field,” he said. “It’s different training versus games, but I’m really excited to get on the field with the guys.”

Cohen said when he signed as a free agent after spending the previous four seasons at Maccabi Haifa he expected that it might be difficult to get minutes with the first team. Brad Guzan has been the team’s starting goalkeeper for most of the past seven seasons and is playing well this season.

Cohen said he will be focused on trying to keep things simple during Tuesday’s match.

“Trust yourself and play, like you have in the past, and the rest will take care of itself,” he said.

Cohen has a lot of experience in tournaments, big and small. While with Maccabi Haifa, he appeared in the Champions League against Juventus and Paris-Saint Germain, featuring Lionel Messi and Neymar. Before moving to Israel, he played for Orange County from 2015-16, and then Phoenix in 2017, in the USL.

“I think you need to have some consistency with how you approach the game, you can’t take it too lightly or too seriously, depending on what side you’re on,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for a lot of guys and play the way you know how to play and trust that the reason you’re on the field is because the coaches trust you and they know you can do well and be successful.”

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Atlanta United’s 2024 schedule

Feb. 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0

March 9 Atlanta United 4, New England 1

March 17 Atlanta United 2, Orlando 0

March 23 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 0

March 31 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 0

April 6 Atlanta United 1, NYCFC 1

April 14 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2

April 20 Cincinnati 2, Atlanta United 1

April 27 Atlanta United 1, Chicago 1

May 4 Minnesota 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 vs. Charlotte Independence in U.S. Open Cup, 7:30 p.m.

May 11 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

May 15 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

May 18 at Nashville, 1:30 p.m.

May 25 vs. LAFC, 7:30 p.m.

May 29 at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

June 2 vs Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FOX

June 15 vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m.

June 19 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

June 22 at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.

June 29 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

July 3 at New England, 7:30 p.m.

July 6 at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m.

July 13 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 17 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

July 20 vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m.

July 26 vs. D.C. United in Leagues Cup, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 4 vs. Santos Laguna in Leagues Cup, 4 p.m.

Aug. 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Nashville, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Orlando, 6 p.m.