Whatever superstition/voodoo/chant/dance y’all did to remove the bad luck from Atlanta United’s shoulders was mostly successful and should be applauded. It would’ve been nice if someone had performed the “please-no-more-injuries” dance before Miles Robinson became the latest victim, but the emotional roller coaster seems to be the mantra of the Five Stripes this year. Let’s be positive for a moment, though, and remember that (I think) the last time Atlanta United scored a hat trick, they then went on to win MLS Cup. Ronaldo Cisneros has instantly cemented a place in this team’s history and simultaneously catapulted himself up to the leading goalscorer spot by scoring the same amount of goals in 36 minutes than the entire team did in the entire month of April (discounting U.S. Open Cup).
That’s cause for celebration in itself, and while there will always be the argument of how Chicago Fire is a lowly squad at this point, 24 hours ago everyone was just predicting this match would end in an incredibly low-scoring slog. Perhaps this is the moment supporters can reminisce on and joyfully talk about when the floodgates of scoring finally opened? Could Cisneros be putting a pin in any further talks of bringing in another striker by becoming a permanent part of Atlanta United? Either way, what a moment for the real Ronaldo to not only finish a beautiful hat trick but do it with his father in town. Even better is the fact that Pineda told Cisneros’ dad the day before the match that perhaps his being there would bring the young striker a hat trick.
As for Miles Robinson, it’ll likely be Monday or Tuesday before fans hear anything specific. This, and the topic of playing on turf, were huge topics in our DSS post-match Twitter Spaces. Pineda and the players were also asked about it, which you can read in the quotes below, but even Pineda mentioned that the prognosis didn’t look good. It’s beyond unfortunate for a player literally on the cusp of a World Cup, not to mention what he means to this Atlanta United team and its fans. He’ll be the subject of many articles and chats throughout the week, but for now we all wish Miles well and pray for the best.
One last note before the quotes. For weeks it’s felt like Pineda was one small tweak away from unfolding this team’s attack, but no one was able to quite put their finger on it. It almost felt like something completely intangible since Atlanta United was doing everything else right. The correct answer here was revealed moments after the game started: Gonzalo Pineda untucked his shirt. Throw it in the superstition category if you want, up there with upside-down, backwards baseball hats, but the Five Stripes have never lost a match with Pineda’s shirt untucked. Food for thought, but in the meantime check out what Pineda, Cisneros, Lennon, and Ibarra had to say after this 4-1 triumph over Chicago.
Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda
On any injury update for Miles Robinson and Caleb Wiley and if he has any concerns about the number of injuries sustained
“So no, no. On both questions, dates. Miles Robinson doesn’t look good, but again, we have to wait for the test and the MRIs and just to see if we can confirm something on that end - Caleb Wiley he twisted the ankle when they went in a tackle on him, I didn’t see the replay, but he says they kicked him in that play and he rolled the ankle. Like he can see and then come out. So, I apologized to Caleb, but it was painful to see him just limping on the field. So, I normally don’t do that, but, uh, it was for a reason. On the turf, no, I’m not an expert. I don’t know if the turf can cause injuries or not, I’m not the expert. Maybe you have to ask some experts on that regard.”
And, the sports science training staff, no concerns about anything that they’re doing or not doing?
“No, we have a very good sports science department. We measure everything. We reflect on everything we do. I think they do a very, very good job - Their standard is very high and obviously, we will check again, but I don’t think there’s anything particularly different to what we’re doing compared to last year or even years before it’s been very similar. So obviously we’re going to check for anything, but I don’t think it’s the case.”
And you said MRI on Robinson, is that for his Achilles tendon or his knee? Achilles tendon?
On the attacking play tonight
“I’m going to ask you back. Like, do you think it was so different from the last few games?
I do. Yeah. I think that there was a lot less dribbling, a lot more passing and moving, a lot of running into space behind lines.
“Yeah. I think the game manifested like that, but I don’t think there was a lot of dribbling in the last few games. I think it was more the lack of clinical precision in the finishing because I think there are games like Cincinnati, we create way more chances on goal - similarities, one to other games in terms of expected goals, possession, final third entries, through balls, crosses, chances, shots - like the stats since it was a very similar game to the last few, just today, we had the fortune to score the goals and to be clinical but I don’t think there was anything particularly different to what we try every weekend.”
On the team responding following Miles’s injury
“Yes, I´m proud of that response. We talk about that at halftime. Obviously, everybody went to see Miles at halftime and they were sad for him obviously. So what we said in the locker room was the best way to honor him and to honor all the players that went down so far this season with long-term injuries is to play up to our standard. That’s the best way to honor them. And I think they did. They came back – they solidified the result and I think they did a pretty good job on that.
On the midfield pairing of Rossetto and Ibarra tonight
“Yeah, I think I have very good midfielders. I think in general, I have a very solid group of midfielders. Today, the pair that work the same as last weekend against Montreal did a very good job. They solidified the middle first defensively. I think they did a good job the other day against behind today. And Shaqiri - and also they assert the procession for us. They are the ones that were dropping a chance to the backline of three. Sometimes you were receiving the ball in behind the Shaqiri and their number 9 and they start to break the lines. I think that the balance of offense and defense that they can provide to the team is good for any team that wants to be good in possession. And they did a very good job, but at the same time when Santi (Sosa) came, he did the same – Emerson (Hyndman), I think he did also a very good job, probably higher on the field. And we know that when Amar (Sejdic) has played, he does very similar performances. Tyler Wolff can play in that position as well. I think I’m blessed with a lot of good midfielders. Any pair that we put in, we feel that they can do a very good job, but obviously, this pair provides a solid midfield at the moment.
On ever experiencing an injury situation like this before in his career
“Yeah, well, I have never seen something this bad. I would say in terms of injuries, I have had some years - whether I was a player or was a coach in Seattle where we had a couple of long-term injuries as well, but nothing like this, especially not in the first 10 games of the season. Obviously, we have checked everything, we check for everything. We’ve been checking for any, everything - We haven’t found anything different. We always check and compare day by day, that’s our routine, but also they went for a little bit longer time and they check for everything. There’s nothing there. I mean, at times you just have bad luck and we just have to try to find a solution, but at the same time, I think it’s bad luck.
Atlanta United forward Ronaldo Cisneros
On scoring a hat trick tonight
“I feel very happy, especially for the team’s victory. Obviously the three goals make me feel happy. We came from three previous matches without a victory, so for me the most important thing today is the victory and the three points.”
On his plans when his loan contract ends
“Obviously, I want to stay, since the first moment that I was asked if I wanted to come, I said yes. My intention is to stay for a long time. I know that it doesn’t depend on me, but what does depend on me, I am going to do what’s possible to stay longer.”
On feeling more comfortable in the team after tonight’s performance
“Yes, the first few games cost me more physically, but with every passing game I have been feeling better. I hope the results continue to come on the field.”
On the team chemistry tonight
“I think the team had been playing pretty well in the last games. Unfortunately, we hadn’t had the precision that we did today. It was something that we’ve been searching for in the past few games where we weren’t able to win and today we were able to finish.”
On how he compares MLS and Liga MX and an MLS team winning Concacaf Champions League
“I think both leagues are very competitive. Since I’ve arrived I’ve realized that there is a lot of competition within the team and all of the games have been difficult. Today we were superior but Chicago is also a great team but I think as you say now the MLS won Concacaf Champions League and soccer in the United States has grown a lot and has a very good future.”
Atlanta United midfielder Franco Ibarra
On the team suffering another injury tonight
“It’s something very sad, we don’t know what’s going on. I’m sad to see a team that works very hard throughout the week to come and play and have a serious injury like the ones we have been having.”
On the team’s connection and togetherness
“Yes, when you have injuries like the ones we have, it’s natural to come closer together. I will try to trust all the veterans to make the journey that we have ahead with all of these injuries and just trust that they will take us home.”
On having to be substituted out of the game:
“Yeah, I initially got scared because I felt something in my foot, but I am good. It just was a scare.
On the team’s teamwork especially in midfield
“Yeah, I just tell Matheus (Rossetto) to kind of play a free role – more on the ball. I like to mark the best players on the other team. I tell Matheus to manage the ball - If I have to do it, I’m more than capable to do it, but I tell him to go manage the ball and I like to do the dirty work in the midfield.”
Atlanta United defender Brooks Lennon
On Miles Robinson’s injury
“Really sad. He’s one of my best friends. Just heartbreaking. In the first half, it really shook us as a team. It took us 15-20 minutes to kind of regroup, I don’t know if you could tell when he went down, we were losing possession of the ball. I think we were all kind of stunned. We’re praying for him, we wish him a speedy recovery. Just another blow to the team, which is not great for us. But like we said and like we’ve said all along, we’ve got guys that are going to need to step up and I thought Al [Alex De John] came in and played really well.”
On the team regrouping after Robinson’s injury
“I think once we came in for half time and Gonzalo [Pineda] addressed the situation and said, ‘Look, this is for Miles. We’ve got to play for Miles and for all the other guys that have gone down.” It’s kind of a pride thing now, to push forward and score goals for them. So we’re really happy that we did that, we scored four tonight. We’ve struggled to put the ball in the back of the net and to score four goals in one game in MLS is not easy. Good result overall and we move on to Wednesday.”
On what was different with the team’s attack
“I think the ball bounced our way a couple times there and in other games, I don’t think it did. Ronaldo [Cisneros] had an easy tap-in for his second goal. He had just a nice tap-in and that’s soccer sometimes. The ball is either going to fall for you or against you and I think recently it’s been falling against us. I’m glad tonight that it fell for us.”
On if Ronaldo Cisneros is the striker the team has been looking for
“I don’t know if we’ve been really looking for strikers. We’ve got so much talent inside this locker room with Josef [Martinez], obviously he’s not available right now. Ronaldo [Cisneros] stepped in and made a name for himself. To score three goals in the first half is really good. We’re proud of him and happy for him that he was able to get his first hat trick in MLS. Hopefully, he can continue to put the ball in the back of the net for us.”
And finally, here are the links to go check out the post-match conversation over on Twitter.