After a west coast road trip, the team trained on Thursday ahead of their second consecutive road trip. Training started at 9 a.m. sharp. The team warmed up on the other side of the field and then went through Rondos.
Toward the end of practice before media availability, the team split on either side of the nearfield. On the side closest to reporters, the defenders were with assistant coach Rob Valentino, working on crosses and clearances.
On the other side, the forwards took turns to challenge goalkeepers Rocco Ríos Novo and Raúl Gudiño with shots on goal. The tables turned for a brief moment and Gudiño fired a few shots from the penalty spot at striker Luiz Araújo. However, Araújo’s stint in goal was short-lived. Once Gudiño put in a shot on goal and raised his arms skyward in celebration, Araújo returned his gloves to the keeper.
Atlanta United spent time this week on what head coach Gonzalo Pineda calls “little things.” The season passed halfway through and, like most MLS clubs, Atlanta United struggled to rack up points on the road. But the club’s desire to win is strong. And, in Pineda’s words, “now is the time” for his team to come together to deliver results:
“I would say 95-98% of the training sessions are high quality, high intensity, and then most of the games I felt we played really well, but we didn’t get any points. “, did he declare. “So it’s time to keep going. Keep going, head down, work, work harder. Work a little bit better, work a little smarter, come together. Unity is very important now, and then we start producing points and making plays, and that’s very important to me.
Here are some additional insights and observations from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground on Thursday.
be on the front foot
The team is using this week to clean up some aspects of their game, specifically working on skills like crossing, finishing, movement and a smoother connection between attackers and defenders.
One of those details is not conceding goals early. The club allowed LA Galaxy a goal in the 7th minute on Sunday, putting the team in position to chase for the equaliser.
Pineda wants to change that. Thus, the coaches insist on being more vigilant in the first minutes of the game, from the opening whistle. Pineda also wants the team to produce as many chances when they win as when they have to chase from behind.
“We concede goals in the first 10-15 minutes of games and it becomes a problem that we try to solve and try to solve,” Pineda said. “So hopefully we can go into this game at half-time with a clean sheet.”
Update from Andrew Gutman… And Caleb Wiley
Fullback Andrew Gutman returned to training last week but did not make the trip to Los Angeles. Asked about his status on Thursday, Pineda confirmed that Gutman would be available for the game against Chicago.
Gutman’s return could signal more flexibility on the left side of the pitch. Inserting him into the baseline would allow Caleb Wiley to play more as a winger. According to Pineda, this position could make Wiley more active in the final third where he has been productive at times this season.
“I think that can free up some of the defensive duties for him where Andrew [Gutman] is fantastic,” Pineda said. “He’s a great competitor. And it could be a good pair. Obviously we have to see the different options, but obviously there are more options out there for sure.
On Thursday, Atlanta United won 24 points with a 6-9-6 record. That puts the club in 12th place in the Eastern Conference heading into the Chicago game this weekend.
The season is far from over, especially in a table as busy as the Eastern Conference. Atlanta United is just four points behind FC Cincinnati, a club currently above the playoff line, and just six points behind Orlando and Columbus in fifth and sixth place.
Still, with the season more than halfway through, Atlanta United is running out of time to get the points they need to catch up. However, the team takes these expectations into account and uses them as motivation.
“The pressure is in everything we do,” Pineda said. “When you’re at a club like Atlanta United, you want to win every game.”
“Pressure is a good thing,” defender Aiden McFadden said. “We want to improve, regardless of the points. That’s the goal as a professional athlete, to improve. So that’s what we’re doing today.
“We have to start winning now, so now is the time to turn things around,” Araújo said. “We’re second to last in the conference, but the teams around us don’t have many more points than us. So now is the time. We have to start winning games and improving.
Building momentum against the Chicago fire
With that in mind, Atlanta United are looking to build forward momentum with their next game against Chicago Fire on Saturday. Getting three points on the road against a team that has been playing well lately could propel the team into a massive August 6 home game against Seattle.
“It’s about two, three results that we can turn into momentum for us,” Pineda said. “So this game is obviously very important to do that.”
Last time out, Atlanta United beat Chicago Fire 4-1 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on May 7. Striker Ronaldo Cisneros scored a hat trick in the first half and was awarded Team of the Week, Player of the Week and Goal of the Week. honors.
However, Atlanta United faces another Chicago team this time around. The Fire have been on the rise lately, winning three straight games, including one on the road, and beating opponents 6-1. So a win on Saturday could carry a lot of weight for Atlanta.
“I think if we win this game it will give us more confidence and help us as we try to move up the rankings,” Araújo said.