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Gonzalo Pineda: A Well-Deserved Three Points

A refreshing restart to MLS play for the Five Stripes

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Is Atlanta United back?

Let’s see this type of play consistently and then determinations can be made, but woooooo boy was that a refreshing change of pace.

The Five Stripes traveled 3000 miles out to Seattle to take on the Sounders in what equated to a large family reunion for Gonzalo Pineda, Ozzie Alonso, and Garth Lagerway. The match was the trio’s first trip back to the Pacific Northwest since they all left for Atlanta United, and it came during a moment when Atlanta desperately needed a win.

90 minutes and a Giorgos Giakoumakis brace later, Atlanta departed with all three points and a clean sheet in what may be one of the most impressive wins under Gonzalo Pineda’s tenure. Pineda has spoken about the work the team has put in since getting bounced from the League’s Cup by Cruz Azul, and it all paid off Sunday night.

The match also saw the first MLS starts for newcomers Tristan Muyumba and Xande Silva; Muyumba featured well in the Cruz Azul match, but this match was always going to be the litmus test for a partially refreshed midfield and wing. Muyumba’s speed and skill immediately made an impact in Atlanta’s ability to open up the rest of the field, and it allowed Thiago Almada room to operate. Atlanta created quite a few solid chances early on, with Xande Silva and Edwin Mosquera on the wings taking advantage of their speed and open space.

It would ultimately be a corner that kicked off the goal scoring for the Five Stripes. Brooks Lennon sent in a beauty of a cross, and Giorgos Giakoumakis rose high to get on the end of it.

Atlanta stayed well in control until the waning moments of the first half, when they started to look a bit shaky, but ultimately went into the locker room up 1-0. The initial portions of the second half weren’t much better, as Seattle held continued spells of possession and put in some dangerous chances. Atlanta struggled to play out of their own half, but held defensively until they could regain composure. It would ultimately be Thiago Almada who found the run of Giorgos Giakoumakis towards the far post, and the young Argentine sat a dime directly to Giakoumakis. He once again headed the ball powerfully down and into the net to make it 2-0.

The win puts Atlanta United only a couple of points out of third place as they prepare to return to the Benz to take on League’s Cup runners-up, Nashville SC. Keep an eye out this week, also, as newcomers Saba Lobjanidze and Jamal Thiaré should be arriving and getting integrated with the team.

Take a look below at what Gonzalo Pineda said after the match, and be sure to leave your own comments!

Atlanta United Head Coach Gonzalo Pineda:

On how things the team worked on manifested tonight:

“Before I answer the question, I want to first send my condolences to the family of Stefan Cleveland for his dad. I’m really sorry, condolences from myself and my family.

Then, thank you to Sounders for what they did with Ozzie Alonso and Stefan Frei. They are always very nice with recognizing legends, and I’m happy for both Ozzie and Stefan. He deserves it.

Then, I felt that we have been working very hard, the staff and players, in certain things that were important from now on. Try to get a push to make top-4 and playoffs. Today we showed that we can do it. There were moments that were better, there were moments where we lost control in the final minutes of the first half. First 20-30 minutes of second half, they were on top of us. We couldn’t connect the passes like we do, so we can correct that. But overall, it was a good performance and a well deserved three points.”

On how Muyumba and Silva looked in their first MLS starts:

“I thought they looked really good. Those two are impactful players. They impacted right away without much adaption. It was good to have three weeks to work with them and work on our principles. They are good players and adapt very well. Tristan of course with the security on the ball and physicality on the field. Very smart player on and off the ball. Xande is very explosive, he can give us a lot of movements on that left side. Today I felt that he couldn’t finish a couple of plays that he has been scoring in the training session. I’m sure his future with Atlanta United is bright. Then two more signings are coming, so I’m happy for that and hopefully they can be as impactful as Xande and Tristan.”