Brad Guzan comments on 'chaotic' Atlanta United season & Thiago Almada form

Guzan admitted ATLUTD haven't been good enough this year.
Guzan admitted ATLUTD haven't been good enough this year. / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan has described the club's 2022 campaign as 'chaotic' and cited injuries as the main reason for failing to live up to expectations.

Much was expected of the Five Stripes heading into the 2022 season after returning to the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2021.

Atlanta had enjoyed a full pre-season under head coach Gonzalo Pineda, Josef Martinez had shown glimpses of his past form, and a number of key additions were made, including Thiago Almada and Osvaldo Alonso.

However, injuries ripped through Pineda's roster, with Guzan and Alonso joining the likes of Miles Robinson, Emerson Hyndman, Santiago Sosa, Brooks Lennon, Andrew Gutman, and Martinez in spending extended spells on the sidelines.

The latter also publicly endured a falling out with Pineda and was suspended for one match in September.

All of this compiled to destroy a promising start to the season, with Atlanta United sliding down the Eastern Conference and failing to make the Playoffs.

"The word I would probably choose to use is chaotic. I think there have been some highs, but there have obviously been some lows," said veteran goalkeeper Guzan (via ESPN). "At the start of the year when we were down in Mexico for preseason, the vibe was one that we were all excited for the year. Slowly but surely though, a spell of injuries came in rapid fire."

Thiago Almada 'finding his footing' with Atlanta United

That said, there were a couple of silver linings to the clouds around Mercedes-Benz Stadium, one of which was undoubtedly the form of Thiago Almada.

The 21-year-old joined Atlanta from Velez for a league-record $16m fee at the start of the season and after an initially modest start, has gone on to become the club's most influential player.

Heading into the final day of the regular season, Almada has six goals and six primary assists to his name in 28 appearances, with 11 of his 12 direct goal involvements coming across his last 21 outings.

So strong has Almada's form been in the second half of the season that he even picked up his first senior cap for Argentina during the most recent international break and is in contention to make their roster for the 2022 World Cup.

"When you look at his recent performances compared to the beginning of the year, I think you see someone who found their footing," Guzan said of Almada. "You are starting to see a much more comfortable Thiago. You see him fitting into the team and understanding movement of guys around him. Guys are understanding now where he likes to pick up the ball, what he likes to do with the ball at his feet and when you have that continuity, you start to see the excitement and skill he has."

Brad Guzan: Atlanta United is still a massive club

Regardless of Almada's form, 2022 has been an utter disappointment for Atlanta United and the pressure is now heavily on Pineda to turn things around.

90min sources confirmed earlier this year that the Mexican will get his chance to rebuild over the winter and have another full pre-season with the Five Stripes. Steve Cannon, CEO of Arthur M. Blank Sports and Entertainment, then went on record to back Pineda's position.

"Gonzalo Pineda will be coaching Atlanta United in 2023," he said, adding: "He will have our full confidence and the opportunity to manage a full and healthy roster next year."

So, with little room for error in the eyes of many supporters, what's the aim for Pineda's Atlanta United in 2023?

"From a sporting side we're trying to get back to that success that we created early on and that's winning games, winning trophies, and competing for trophies," said Guzan. "Atlanta United is still a massive club, if not the biggest club in the league. Players are still eager to come and be a part of Atlanta United. It's down to us as players to recapture that success by winning games."

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