Atlanta United

Gonzalo Pineda explains how Luiz Araujo's first Atlanta United goal was no fluke

Chris Smith
Luiz Araujo scored within just five minutes of kick-off against FC Cincinnati.
Luiz Araujo scored within just five minutes of kick-off against FC Cincinnati. / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Luiz Araujo finally got off the mark for Atlanta United on Wednesday night, and he did it in style.

The Brazilian arrived in Georgia from French champions Lille for a $9.5m fee - which could rise to $12m - at the start of August and has excited fans with some dazzling displays of skill.

However, prior to Wednesday night's 4-0 thrashing of FC Cincinnati, Araujo had been unlucky in front of goal, hitting the woodwork and bending efforts just wide but failing to make the net ripple.

Against Cincy, he opened the scoring after just five minutes. Receiving the ball with his back to goal near the halfway line, the 25-year-old evaded pressure from four opposing defenders before racing toward the Cincinnati box. Once he chopped inside onto his left foot and got sight of goal, Araujo needed no second invitation to lash the ball home into the far corner.

The goal was given an xG value of just 0.32, but close observers of the Five Stripes will note that Araujo rattled the post in a similar fashion in the opening minutes of Atlanta's 3-0 win over rivals Orlando City just days earlier. This was no fluke.

It should come as little surprise that new head coach Gonzalo Pineda revealed on Wednesday this is the exact sort of situation they've been working on getting Araujo into.

“It was amazing," Pineda told reporters of Araujo's strike. "It was amazing because it’s something that we prepared.

"We talked about Brooks Lennon being a little bit deeper, creating those spaces for Luiz Araújo when their wingback jumps on him. He was isolated in that little pocket and that’s where he can show what he can bring to the team, which is an explosive player that can go on the dribble and obviously coming inside to take shots, but also, I think he can pass the ball in behind at times. He is a very dangerous player that is going to score many goals for this franchise.”

Hours of preparation on the training field made Araujo so composed that, in the moment, he wasn't even aware of just how much pressure he was under from the Cincinnati defence when receiving the ball.

"No, I didn’t see that," the Brazilian said. "It’s like an automatic thing for me to just turn and go. Speed is one of my characteristics and I just went for it.”

Ultimately, despite the preparation and quality of the goal, Araujo was relieved to get off the mark after four previous games of frustration.

“I’m very happy to score my first goal in this shirt," he added. "I was working very hard to get this first goal. I came close in the first four games, but it wouldn’t go in. I was working hard, I knew it would come. I’m happy it came today and I’m happy with the win.”

Atlanta United's resounding victory leaves them seventh in the Eastern Conference, above the playoff line for the first time since May 23rd (Week Six).

The Five Stripes are entering a critical period where, in their next four games, they face the four sides two places either side of them in the standings. Up next is DC United at home on Saturday, followed by the Philadelphia Union, Inter Miami and CF Montreal.