Single Blog Title

This is a single blog caption

Atlanta United steadies itself after a tumultuous week

Atlanta United

Atlanta United traveled to Montreal on Saturday night and came away with all three points in a 1-0 victory. Brooks Lennon scored the game’s only goal after a bounce off the post from a Thiago Almada free kick. It’s only the third match this season that CF Montreal has lost at home.

The victory came on a night when the rest of the Eastern Conference was struggling. The Five Stripes were the only team to get three points out of the top nine. With 35 points, Atlanta is now seventh in the conference. Atlanta United is 65% through the season, level on points with Seattle and ahead of Philadelphia, LAFC, and Orlando City. If you didn’t do anything else this week but watch last night’s game and look at the standings, you’d believe the team had just had a typical week.

If there was any uncertainty or unrest on the team this week, it didn’t show on the field, following the trade of Andrew Gutman and the dramatic Franco Ibarra loan. Following the moves, Gonzalo Pineda and Ronald Hernandez responded to the media with a “Welp, it’s lame, but that’s MLS for ya” attitude. Last night, Santiago Sosa did the same.

“Yes, we lost two great players. It’s not easy for us. They were our teammates, we share a lot of things this year, or the last two years in my case with Franco (Ibarra),” Sosa said. “But, in MLS that type of thing will happen, and we have to keep going.”

Players and coaches will never respond in the same manner that fans do. But there was always the chance that last night might go wrong — that the bad emotions from the week would emerge in a humiliating road loss. Instead, the team as a whole delivered one of the year’s most focused, dedicated, and professional performances. They avoided costly mistakes during the buildup. Defensively, they avoided fatal errors. They didn’t flinch when it came time to hole down in their own 18, kill time by any means necessary, and defend against a final round of Montreal strikes.

“I think [the back three] is working. Again, we have to see as coaches that we try to stick with a formation just to have some continuity. But then sometimes when you see things aren’t working, you look for alternatives and that’s what we did. But, no formation will fix mentality,” Pineda said.

“The credit all goes to the players. I could put a backline of six and if they don’t win duels, aerial duels, the 50-50 ball or block shots, the plan won’t work defensively. It can very easily be a back four and if we have that mentality we can do the same. Yes, at the moment this formation is working, but again all credit should go to the players.”

More changes are on the way. More players will be joining the team, while some will be leaving. It’s difficult to believe after last week, but the transfer window is still open for over a month. This isn’t the first time Atlanta United has had to hunker down while missing starters and possibly wondering what happened to the guy in the locker next to them.

But, if last night is any indication, this bunch is learning to buckle down and do whatever it takes to get the job done. It’s a promising indication for a club that has been good but inconsistent this season. Changes are on the way, and Atlanta is only three points out of second place in the East. So much remains on the table, and the culture of the squad on the field is slowly but steadily improving right in front of our eyes.

“It was a very brave performance,” Pineda said. “Which makes me think we are heading in the right direction.”