Atlanta United

Is attack the best form of defense for Atlanta United?

Chris Smith
Almada scored again for the Five Stripes at the weekend.
Almada scored again for the Five Stripes at the weekend. / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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With Andrew Gutman added to the lengthy injury list and a long weather delay just three minutes in, Atlanta United had a fair bit to deal with during their away trip to Nashville SC on Saturday.

But despite the remarkable circumstances of the match, not least the fact it ended after midnight with only the hardiest of fans (a lot of them Five Stripes) remaining inside GEODIS Park, it was actually a very ordinary performance from Gonzalo Pineda's men.

As they have done throughout this season, Atlanta United relied on a scintillating attacking line-up including the likes of Thiago Almada, Luiz Araujo, and Marcelino Moreno to provide a crutch for their faltering defense.

An error in position and some more lackluster defending in their own box meant Almada and Dwyer's goals were only equalizers in Tennessee. While he's searching for solutions in Atlanta United's own box, Pineda is beginning to accept he may have to double down on his team's attacking principles.

“I think we been struggling with that," Pineda said of the Five Stripes defense. "We know we need to adjust that. I feel like it’s not from moments where we are organized, it’s more moments where we are not organized and a little bit of ball-watching inside the box. We’ve been talking a lot about that urgency, especially inside the boxes on both ends, but I mean, a good way to come back to that is obviously clean up those soft goals we’ve been giving up.

"But another good way is just attack more and just continue with the attack because every time Thiago [Almada] is on the ball in the attacking half, Marcelino [Moreno], Luiz [Araújo], we look dangerous. We look with some sense of danger in the opposing goal. So we just need to attack more than what we defend and when we defend, always, we need to be more solid.”

For all the continued defensive misgivings, Atlanta's character still has to be applauded, coming from behind twice against a tough Nashville team having waited hours to resume the match as a storm forced the players off the pitch.

Pineda was certainly in the mood to focus on the positives after the match.

"I think it’s very positive, even though it was a tough game," he said. "All the delays, all the issues, what happened with Andrew [Gutman]. We had to sub him at half-time after that kick I think he received. No call. No foul. I think that this adjusted the shape of the team.

"But I think the fight, the competitive mentality, I think we were a little bit unorganized at times but with the right mentality, with the right attitude to come back into the game. I think it was a reward for the players’ heart and passion to come back in a tough game. Very difficult game.”

The Five Stripes are eighth in the Eastern Conference and host the Columbus Crew on Saturday.

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