Gonzalo Pineda

Gonzalo Pineda, Brooks Lennon on “simplifying the message” ahead of double matchweek

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Atlanta United’s congested May schedule is not slowing down as they go on the road for their next two matches. The 5-Stripes are coming off two consecutive home matches: a midweek 3-0 victory against Charlotte Independence to move onto the Round of 16 for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and a 3-2 loss against D.C. United in MLS play.

The team travels to TQL Stadium to take on Eastern Conference heavyweight FC Cincinnati for a Wednesday evening clash. While Atlanta United prepares to try and get points on the road, defender Brooks Lennon and head coach Gonzalo Pineda spoke to local media to discuss the team staying the course for better results and how they want to approach the match against an Eastern Conference opponent.

Brooks Lennon

As a player who has been in MLS since 2017, and a member of the 5-Stripes since 2019 with over 100 games played for the club under his belt, Brooks Lennon is used the ebbs and flows that come with playing the game. With the knowledge he’s acquired through the years, he says the best way to get over this patch of games is to maintain the game plan that was put into place at the start of the season.

“I have been at the club for a while now. Every single MLS club goes through ups and down throughout a season,” Lennon said. “It has been a long time since a team has won a single game; I don’t even know if it has happened in MLS. So, every team is going to lose some games, and then you could go on a run and win some. Nothing is changing; the messaging is staying the same. Every individual needs to step up.”

All the signs for the 5-Stripes point north despite the results. As per coach Gonzalo Pineda, they see no use in changing their approach as a “proactive team”. Proactive soccer is Atlanta United soccer. Atlanta is still top five in the league in expected goals and shots, while leading in possession each match. There is a feeling that all the necessary tools are there for team success, it is just a matter of connecting the work to the results on the pitch.

“The first thing to get out of a rough patch is working harder,” said Lennon. “That is the way you build confidence as an individual and a group. Knowing that your preparation is at 100 percent, and you are going into every game knowing that you left nothing to waste. We are going to continue work as hard as we possibly can and hopefully that leads to results.”

Gonzalo Pineda

Through the current rough patch that the team is experiencing, Pineda has stayed consistent in how he thinks the team should play. To him the key to coming out on the other side is to “never stop believing in the team”. The challenge is to redirect focus to get back to where they saw themselves at the beginning of the season.

“Simplify the message,” said Pineda when asked about what he has learned from his previous experience as not only a player but a coach as well. “And putting the players in a position to succeed. Give them tools, and the message that sometimes less is more.”

The last two road games that the 5-Stripes have played ended in a draw; a 1-1 tie against New York City and a scoreless match against Chicago Fire FC. They hope to get better results this week against FC Cincinnati and Nashville SC. In the last match against Cincinnati, which came on April 20, the only goal scored by the 5-Stripes came from Thiago Almada, a strike from just outside the box that is customary of the magic expected from the Argentine star. He also scored one of Atlanta’s two goals Saturday against D.C. Almada gaining his footing scoring wise is important to the development of the team.

“I have full belief in the kid,” said Pineda. “He is a great player. I think simplifying is a part of that. He is a guy who really, really loves to win; so competitive. He loves competing. When he sees the team is not winning, he tries to put all of that on himself. Then he does a little bit too much because he wants to win. On the other side, we never see Thiago hiding, even when he is struggling. He always looks for the ball. He can give you an assist or goal at any moment because he has that magic. It is about helping him to get back to that form.”

All of the players look to get back into winning form on Wednesday in another Eastern Conference face off.

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