Ronaldo Cisneros hasn’t been playing in MLS very long, but he’s quickly making a strong impact.
In just the span of five MLS appearances, the Mexican player on loan with Atlanta United has become the team’s leading goal-scorer on the season and the third player in club history to score a hat trick.
And on Monday, his impressive start in MLS continued as Cisneros was named Player of the Week.
It’s the first time this season, the fourth in club history, that an Atlanta United player has received the award. Earlier on Monday, Cisneros was also named to the MLS Team of the Week, becoming the third member of the 5-Stripes to earn a spot on the league’s weekly list.
The distinctions arrive on the heels of Cisneros’s historic performance on Saturday. The Atlanta United striker not only scored a hat trick, he became one of the fastest in club history to do it. The three goals came in 36 minutes, second quickest ever for Atlanta United, just one minute behind Josef Martínez’s hat trick against Orlando in 2017.
His performance lifted Atlanta United to a 4-1 victory over Chicago FC, securing the team’s first win since April 2 and first multi-goal match in MLS competition since the 3-3 draw with CF Montréal on March 19.
“I feel very happy because of the win for the team,” Cisneros said. “Obviously, it’s nice to score three goals, but the important thing is we’re able to get a win after going three games without one. So the victory for the team is most important.”
Cisneros joined the club at the end of March on loan from Chivas Guadalajara, a professional club in Mexico. Most of his playing career has been in Liga MX, the Mexican professional league. He was even on the other side for the scrimmage between Atlanta United and Chivas during the team’s preseason trip to Guadalajara.
His time in MLS has been short, but Cisneros adjusted quickly. He’s grown more comfortable with the different style, working his way from his first appearance against Charlotte FC on April 10 to starting and playing a full 90 minutes not even a full month later on Saturday against Chicago.
“The first few games for my physically were tough, not so much tactically but just physically adjusting,” he said. “Now, I’m feeling good and hopefully the results will continue to be positive and in our favor.”
During that time, Cisneros has become a strong target in Atlanta’s attack. On April 24 against Inter Miami, he scored his first MLS goal on a rebounding ball off a corner kick. Of the team’s six most recent goals, Cisneros is responsible for four of them.
“My teammates in the past games have been trying to find me with some of those longer balls, and today I was able to find them and we were able to take advantage,” he said.
With Martínez out 6-8 weeks, Cisneros has provided another option up top for head coach Gonzalo Pineda. The striker is relentless in his pursuit of the ball. Whether it’s pressing the backline or making runs in behind, Cisneros doesn’t give up on the play.
Pineda has remarked on Cisneros’s commitment to his runs. He also said that the striker’s work ethic makes the team better, not just on match days but in training as well.
“What happened today is we were able to find him better in various situations in their areas like the through balls and the balls in behind,” Pineda said after the match. “His willingness to always be running in behind, chasing behind, I think that helps him to be in those situations. And today he showed that he can certainly score many goals.”
Originally from Torreón, Mexico, Cisneros describes himself as a family-oriented man. To make the night even more special, his dad was in attendance for the match against Chicago Fire FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and was able to see his son’s hat trick in-person on Saturday.
Even as a player on loan, Cisneros plans to give it his all to the club. After the match, he said his hat trick wasn’t so much a message on his value on the roster as it was a gift to Atlanta supporters:
“It was more of a message to the fans that for however long I’m here, if it’s a short or long time, I’m going to give my best.”