Caleb Wiley, Gonzalo Pineda on preparing for Minnesota United FC and the busy month ahead

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At the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground, Atlanta United was hard at work preparing for their next match. On Saturday, May 4, they will face off against Minnesota United FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The 5-Stripes are coming off a scoreless draw against Chicago Fire FC.

After practice on Thursday, head coach Gonzalo Pineda and defender Caleb Wiley spoke to local media about how they plan to get three points against Minnesota, a jampacked May, and staying even keeled against adversity.


Caleb Wiley

With Atlanta United’s Goal of the Month under his belt, April was an impressive month for Atlanta United homegrown Caleb Wiley. As we move into May, a busy month for the 5-Stripes, Wiley talked about how the team is going to tackle the next few weeks.

“It starts off with winning this weekend, and getting the momentum going,” said Wiley. “Then we have the Lamar Hunt U.S\] [Open Cup on Tuesday. We will try to go game by game. The recovering is important. Making sure we get the right recovery so will be good for the next game.”

Both Pineda and Wiley mentioned how important it was to try and get three points this weekend. Minnesota United FC is coming off two straight wins, but the 5-Stripes believe in the process they carried throughout the past few games. The team’s most recent match against Chicago at Soldier Field showed that. Atlanta walked away with 16 shots on goal, six shots on target and had the advantage in territorial dominance.

Wiley believes that if they continue with those dominant pushes, the ball is bound to go into the back of the net.

“It will come,” said Wiley. “We are creating so many chances. I know it is frustrating, but the goals will come. We are not worried because we have the talent to do that (score goals)”.

In terms of preparing for Minnesota, Wiley said it will be crucial to “exploit the space behind their backline”. The chemistry between Wiley, and fellow defender Brooks Lennon, has played a part in Atlanta United’s success on the backline.

Wiley ended his media availability by expressing how each game is used as a stepping stone for the squad to grow. Staying “even keeled” is key for the 5-Stripes.

“We know that it is still early in the season. We still have a lot more games to go,” said Wiley. “We have so much more to learn. That is what we are all excited about; that is what I am excited about for this team. We have so much more to do, and to show everybody.”

Gonzalo Pineda

So far, this season, injuries have been a barrier for Atlanta United to try and overcome. Some relief came in the last two matches as Giorgos Giakoumakis saw playing time against Cincinnati FC and Chicago Fire FC, and Stian Gregersen has started practice with the team. Pineda gave a couple availability updates for the match Saturday, saying that Jamel Thaire and Derrick Williams are “probably out” for the game against Minnesota.

Pineda explained the pathway for Atlanta getting the win this weekend, also mentioning Minnesota’s defense.

“We have watched all the games,” said Pineda. “We have prepared tactically for whatever lineup or structure they present. So, it is about our principles and how we play. How we can balance their backline, and how we can create enough chances for our attacking players to be near the goal line.”

There is a quiet confidence in the way Pineda speaks about his team. He echoed Wiley’s sentiments about knowing more goals are just around the corner.

“I completely agree with Caleb,” said Pineda when asked about his player’s conviction in the team’s talent. “I think we have all seen the potential we have. I understand that the last three game have not been what we all have wanted, in the three games we have created way more chances than the opponents. And you could say that two out of the three opponents have been very dominant in the league.”

In the same vein of praising the effort the 5-Stripes have put forth, Pineda also called out the good play of Luis Abram, Noah Cobb and Efrain Morales. Morales played his first game with the first team the previous week against Chicago. Pineda pointed out how special it is to have two homegrowns, Cobb and Morales, get to where they are now.

“Kudos to the kids, kudos to the Academy students and to the coaches,” said Pineda. “The story from Efrain, he has been here since he was 11 years old. It is amazing. When you are here with that Atlanta badge on your chest for eight or nine years, you are in love with the team. You play with love and passion for the club. We want that.”

Atlanta United looks to get back into the win column on Saturday. Fans can catch the 7:30 P.M. kickoff and the match by streaming it on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, or they can listen on local radio on 92.9 The Game (English) and La Mejor (Spanish).

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