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The scoreless draw to Chicago Fire on Saturday brought back some familiar faces to Atlanta United.

The first was Santiago Sosa. The midfielder was in the starting XI for the first time since the April 24 match against Inter Miami. It marked Sosa’s fourth start of the season.

He returned to the match against Chicago Fire after going through some starts and stops this season. Leading up to 2022, Sosa missed out on the preseason as he was coming back from sports hernia surgery. Then, he battled an illness that kept his playing time inconsistent.

“It’s also tough personally when you can’t play to help the team,” Sosa said after the match on Saturday. “But I think my teammates have done a good job. I think we’ve had ups and downs but today we played a good match.”

Against Chicago, Sosa played a full 90 minutes, complementing Matheus Rossetto in the midfield. Sosa completed 39 passes, tied for third best on the team, including 11 in the final third. The midfielder from Argentina also made six recoveries and won six aerial duels to help Atlanta United come out with a clean sheet.

“I think I did a good job defensively,” he said. “I felt good physically. Maybe to improve, I can be more secure with the ball. I missed a few passes today that I don’t usually miss.”

The other player who returned to action on July 30 after a long absence was Andrew Gutman. The defender entered the match against Chicago Fire in the 75th minute as a substitute.

It was his first appearance since May 21 against Nashville SC. He missed the last two months due to a quadriceps tendon injury that he suffered in that match and returned to training last week.

“It was my first muscle injury, honestly,” Gutman said after training on Tuesday. “So, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I’d feel day-to-day. And then, obviously, not being out there with the guys, not being able to give a little bit more stability and leadership and just solid play, that was tough for me.”

Before missing time, Gutman was one of the most reliable players for head coach Gonzalo Pineda. He started 12 consecutive MLS matches and played a full 90 in nine of those. Gutman, who signed with Atlanta United in 2021 but spent last season on loan with the New York Red Bulls, quickly endeared himself to Atlanta supporters with his relentless pursuit of the ball.

His minutes on Saturday were limited, but it’s a promising sign to see a resilient and seasoned defender like Gutman see minutes on the backline.

“I felt good,” he said. “It was a long time out. I worked hard to get back to full fitness a little earlier than expected, so I’m happy to be back… Everything’s fine, so I’m ready to go, hopefully for the rest of the season.”

  • Watch Sosa and Gutman in-person on Saturday, August 6 when Atlanta United hosts Seattle Sounders at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Secure your seat today!