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Head coach Gonzalo Pineda, Brooks Lennon on staying positive and what the 5-Stripes want to achieve against the Philadelphia Union 

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The countdown to the next Atlanta United match is winding down as the 5-Stripes prepare for the Philadelphia Union. Coming off a strong effort against New York City FC, and getting their first point on the road, the squad is ready to be back on familiar grounds for the Sunday afternoon match.

On Friday, head coach Gonzalo Pineda and defender Brooks Lennon spoke to the media about how the team is handling the injuries, and what they expect from the match against Philadelphia.

Brooks Lennon

As a mainstay on Atlanta’s roster for years, Lennon is not fazed by much. With the injuries the squad is working through, including Derrick Williams and Jamal Thiaré  set to be out for two-four-weeks, adjustments have been made to accommodate the roster changes. But despite that, Lennon expressed that the team is in a good headspace.

“It is good. I think we had a very positive performance against NCYFC,” said Lennon about team morale. “It was good to pick up that point on the road. We had a couple of guys down in that game. In every season, you are going to have certain guys go down with injuries – that is just a part of the game. It is just kind of the next man up mentality. That is why you build a roster from top to bottom.”

The hardest test for Atlanta so far at home is coming against the Philadelphia Union, the only team left in MLS that has not lost a match yet. While the 5-Stripes have always thrived with pushing the offensive, and keeping possession of the ball, Philadelphia’s approach is different. A battle of two styles.

“One of the different challenges Philly brings is their formation,” said Lennon. “Tactically, we have had to adjust a few things offensively and defensively for this upcoming game. But that is why we have really good coaches to help us understand how to break them down, and hopefully get the three points.”

Last season, Lennon was statistically one of the strongest American full backs in MLS, and he has gotten off to strong start this season as well. During the media availability, Lennon said most of his motivation comes from wanting to prove he is one of the best, and he looks forward to matchups like the one against the Union to highlight his skills.

Gonzalo Pineda

In good spirits, and of course with a cup of coffee in hand, Head Coach Pineda conveyed a similar positive message about the state of the 5-Stripes ahead of the match.

“It is very important,” said Pineda when asked about the leadership stepping up. “We are okay. It is not like we want to sound like pessimists. We are good in a moment. The players are doing very good in training session; they are doing everything they can. They understand the tactics and are working hard. So, we are good.”

 The next four of Atlanta’s five matches are at home, giving the club a chance to accumulate points and hopefully move up the table. It is no secret how dominate the 5-Stripes are at home in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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“Yes, that is our home advantage. It is one of the biggest in the league because of the stadium, the fans – the 17s, are very loud,” said Pineda. “Our opponents feel it too. I feel like our players play with a little bit more confidence at home.”

Going hand in hand with the passion shown by the fans, is the passion shown internally to keep the growth of not only Atlanta United going, but also the growth of soccer in the south. Just this week, it was announced that the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground will undergo a transformation and expansion. The project is projected to be finished by the summer of 2025.

“Of course it is massively important, the investment into it, but the people are also important,” said Pineda. “When players come to this environment, that is what they love about it. The staff is great here.”

From the training facility to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, Gonzalo and the 5-Stripes are ready to take on Philadelphia. Fans can tune in on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV and FOX/FOX Deportes on Sunday afternoon at 2:30pm ET when the action kicks off at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. To hear the action on radio, tune into STAR 94 FM or Sirius XM FC 157 (English) or La Mejor – AM 1600 (Spanish).

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