Atlanta United

Gonzalo Pineda pleased with early Almada/Moreno partnership in Atlanta United win

Chris Smith
Almada and Moreno caused DC United plenty of problems.
Almada and Moreno caused DC United plenty of problems. / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Three points on the road are always welcome, but Atlanta United's victory away at DC United on Saturday certainly wasn't pretty.

The Five Stripes had to ride some early pressure at Audi Field, with the hosts pressing high and hard, looking to catch the visitors off-balance. To their credit, Atlanta United didn't break and made it through the onslaught unscathed which is an achievement in itself given this team's failings on the road in recent years.

Atlanta United struck late with a bizarre Marcelino Moreno header in second-half stoppage time, which perhaps could and should have been saved by Bill Hamid. But the Five Stripes were rewarded for a strong mentality and always trying to play the right way.

Moreno was one of the highlights of the night as well. Or, more specifically, his partnership with Thiago Almada; the most expensive player in MLS history and one Atlanta United hope will inspire the club back to former glories.

“These are our first games together. We’re getting to know each other, even though I knew him in Argentina it’s not the same as playing together," Moreno said after the match. "I think he’s going to give us a lot and hopefully great results."

He added: “Gonzalo asks that Thiago and I rotate all the time and I saw that he was dropping back so I went farther up the field. We hope that coordination between him and I keeps working."

Though they only exchanged 13 passes during Saturday's match, Moreno and Almada could be seen creating angles for each other and moving in sync to keep the DCU defense both busy and out of shape. What's more, both instinctively looked for one another in dangerous areas, as well as trying to set Josef Martinez free on goal.

In his post-match press conference, Pineda revealed he'd been working hard on building understanding between the two during the international break and that he was pleased with the early signs.

“If we’ve been working on something, it was that," Pineda said of the Almada/Moreno partnership. "It was on the combination play between Marcelino and Thiago to find them in dangerous areas.

"I felt that at times, there were very good plays between those two, and if you add Ozzie [Alonso] and [Matheus] Rossetto finding those pockets and finding them. I think you saw a few through balls in behind to Josef also, that Marcelino and Thiago can provide.

"I think that always a smile on my face because those two specifically are talented players for us. We want them, at the same time, in the team. They need to co-exist in the same area at some times to be able to combine. Today, we saw a little bit of that and I think they did a good job.”

Atlanta United are now third in the Eastern Conference after an impressive opening five games. Up next for the Five Stripes is a trip to southern rivals Charlotte FC on Sunday.