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Atlanta United falls 2-0 to Nashville SC in Gonzalo Pineda’s first match

Tough day at the office for Atlanta’s new manager.

MLS: Nashville SC at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United lost in its first match under Gonzalo Pineda, ending a five game winning streak and delivering a stinging blow to Atlanta’s quest to rise above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference Standings. A first half goal from Daniel Ríos opened the scoring and a 90’+5’ goal from Randall Leal confirmed Atlanta United walked out of Mercedes-Benz Stadium with nothing.

“Well, I cannot say we’re satisfied,” Pineda said. “ Obviously, we lost the game. And that’s painful. That’s painful to me, that’s painful for the players to for the fans, which is the most important part.

The Lineup

Pineda’s first lineup in charge on a match day is the same Rob Valentino trotted out during his final game in charge.

The Highlights

This goal highlights a lot of issues with this setup and formation, and Nashville pounced on those issues.

In the 53rd minute, Brad Guzan played a long throw to Araujo, who then made a direct and incisive run, but Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis produced the goods to keep Atlanta United out.

I don’t want to talk about this.


  • This was not a good performance from Atlanta United by any stretch of the imagination. Most of Atlanta’s attacks came through long balls over the top, which is never what you want. And even when the Five Stripes got into scoring positions, they either couldn’t finish or simply missed the ball. Like, just a straight up “swing-and-a-miss”, whiff type of situation here. And it’s even more worrying that Atlanta United fielded the BAMM (Barco, Araujo, Moreno and Martinez) quartet and failed to do anything really creative on the ball, especially since the 5-1-4 formation sacrifices Atlanta’s midfield presence to get all those guys on the field.
  • Nashville capitalized on the gaps between Atlanta’s backline and one-man midfield during the first half, which is what led to that Nashville goal. Because Atlanta is fielding BAMM and opting to play what is essentially a 5-1-4/3-3-4, Atlanta just didn’t have the bodied needed in the midfield, leading to those gaps and center backs getting sucked out of position. This thread from Matt Doyle breaks down Nashville’s opening goal and validates what I just said.
  • Atlanta United has only played one game under Pineda, but I think the coaching staff needs to take a serious look at the formation. The formation doesn’t correlate with philosophies, but I felt Amar Sejdić was extremely isolated. The formation change in the second half to a back four seemed to work better for the team, and Pineda echoed that sentiment.

“I felt that the second half, when we switched into a 4-2-3-1, we had a better control of that part and we had more attacking players in the attacking half. I felt the change was successful in some ways.”

Considering how early we are in the Pineda era and his own transition into a head coaching role for the first time in his professional career, I think we will see a great deal of tinkering with formations and tactics.

Atlanta United and Gonzalo Pineda will have a lot of time to prepare for the next match, which comes on September 10th against Orlando City at the Benz.