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Four Things to Know About Atlanta United This Week

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Is this the calm before the storm?

MLS: Atlanta United FC at CF Montreal Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United has had a relatively slow week. A tough loss to Montreal on Saturday gave way to three Atlanta players heading off to the World Cup Qualifiers: Miles Robinson, George Bello, and Ronald Hernandez. Josef sat this international break out after coming off the field at the half against Montreal with a hamstring injury, which is actually probably slightly favorable compared to the alternative of his knee being blown.

The 2’s set off against Indy Eleven on Saturday, as well, since they’re looking to play the role of homewrecker in each of their upcoming away matches. Finally, one Gonzalo Pineda had an interview on The Call Up with Jillian Sakovits and Susannah Collins, and any time that man gets the mic is super enlightening for Five Stripes fans. With that being said, here are the four things to know about Atlanta United this week!

  1. Atlanta quickly drop a lead and lose against Montreal.

These away games just aren’t going in Atlanta’s favor. Granted, the team looked better against Montreal than they ever did against Philly, but three points are crucial at this point in the season with the Eastern Conference standings looking like an absolute pile of Waffle House hashbrowns. The team looked decent in the first half, with Ezequiel Barco coming about 3 inches from scoring the goal of his career:

Josef Martinez could be seen hardly running at the tail end of the first 45 minutes, and it appeared he’d tweaked his knee. He didn’t return for the rest of the match, and it was later revealed that he had a hamstring issue.

The second half started with a bang, however, with Luiz Araujo and Jake Mulraney walking onto the pitch and making instant Fogo de Chao of Montreal:

After seeing that same run from Luiz Araujo over and over again, it doesn’t seem like anyone in MLS can stop him. He’s aggressive, technical, and precise, and when he makes that run from right-midfield to the top of the box it should put fear into defenders. Eventually, he’s going to open up acres of space for Barco and Moreno to operate in, because teams are starting to realize they have to put multiple men on him to contain his aggression. And Jake Mulraney, what a classy finish. Hopefully that gives him some confidence moving forward, even if that just means coming on as a solid sub who can be a gamechanger with speed and more attack-oriented runs. Admittedly, Atlanta’s past two goals have been partially a result of Mulraney entering the pitch, so it’s something to keep an eye on when looking into upcoming matchups.

Unfortunately though, Atlanta let off the gas shortly after this goal and gave up two in quick succession. The match quickly turned from potentially stealing three points away to fighting back to snag one. Even with some tactical changes, they weren’t able to pull off a draw and they now sit just outside the playoff line (with three points between them and third).

2. Three Atlanta players get called up to international duty.

Miles Robinson, George Bello, and Ronald Hernandez were all called up to the World Cup qualifiers happening during this international break. Josef Martinez stayed behind due to his hamstring injury, and rest is precisely what that man needs. Ronald Hernandez was able to provide a hockey assist in Venezuela’s opening goal against Brazil, but the yellow-jerseys were able to come back with three unanswered goals to defeat La Vinotinto 3-1.

Miles Robinson and George Bello had much better luck with the U.S. Men’s National Team Thursday night against Jamaica. Robinson got the start, as usual, and though this won’t go down on his highlight reel, he and the rest of the backline still kept Jamaica to only five shots with one on target. The USMNT won the match 2-0 thanks to a Ricardo Pepi brace.

Hopefully we’ll see Robinson and Bello come back to Atlanta even stronger than before. It seems like every time Bello is on international duty he learns something new, so we’ll see if he can break through the wall he’s seemingly hit now and become even more dangerous on the wing for the Five Stripes.

3. Atlanta United 2 draw Indy Eleven late.

The 2’s are acting as spoilers at this point in the season. They’re not making the playoffs, but they have a list of talented young players who are still fighting to show why they are a valuable asset to the club. Many players would wind down and set their sights for next year if they were in the same position, but not these guys. Atlanta faced Indy Eleven Saturday and Aiden McFadden set an Atlanta United 2 record with this goal in LATE stoppage time to equalize:

McFadden has set the record for the most goals in a single season at eight, which is a crucial confidence booster going into the offseason. It’s moments like this that give everyone the morale boost to put in that extra training over the break to come back so much stronger next time. The 2’s have a few more games left, so there is still opportunity to pad those numbers.

4. Gonzalo Pineda featured on “The Call Up.”

If you haven’t had a chance to go listen to Atlanta’s head coach on “The Call Up” podcast with Jillian Sakovits and Susannah Collins, go check it out. If you’ve been listening to Pineda since he came to Atlanta, you know he has something interesting and enlightening to say every time he’s given a mic. This podcast was no exception. He speaks about his playing days and all of the influences he’s had as a coach and players, keeping the positivity, making a statement with this Atlanta team, and so much more.

Props have to be given to the man, because he clearly has a mind for the game and it’s nice that he isn’t afraid of putting himself out into the public eye. In what’s been a rather slow week for the club, this was a neat bit of insight into Gonzo’s first couple of months at the helm for the Five Stripes.

Atlanta United still has some time before their next match. Josef needs all the rest he can get and the team as a whole needs to focus on finishing the chances they’re creating. Who knows what drills they’re running in Marietta, but there’s a lot of optimism coming into this last six-game stretch before the playoffs. They clearly continue to build chemistry as a unit, so it’ll be fun to see if they can truly dominate the remaining schedule to get set for a run at the cup. The players, fans, and coaches seem to think so, now that just needs to translate to results on the pitch. And that’s your four things to know about Atlanta United this week!