This season Atlanta United has faced a series of injuries starting with Ozzie Alonso and most recently with Andrew Gutman. Throughout these injuries the Atlanta team has kept one thing in mind: next man up. That mentality and mantra has helped the team continue push forward.
Atlanta United has always been consistent with its captain. Since Brad Guzan started with the team, the veteran goalkeeper has been the steady wall on and off the pitch. In the match against FC Cincinnati, Guzan suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. After his injury, the captains arm band went to Miles Robinson. Robinson was a different style of captain than Guzan. While Guzan could be heard giving instructions on the pitch, Robinson was described as a captain who led by example. When Robinson experienced an injury of his own the phrase “next man up,” seemed to ring even more true.
When speaking to media, Dom Dwyer shared some words Gonzalo Pineda told the team early on in this season. The head coach let his team know that every player was needed and valuable.
“Gonzo said to us at the start of the year that everyone would be needed.” Dwyer shared. “And it’s never been more true now. No one expected the guys to be dropping out like we have been but it’s next man up mentality.”
After much consideration, the captain’s armband went to midfielder Matheus Rossetto. The decision came after discussions between the coaching staff. The staff took in consideration, who had been with the team for a while, who has consistently showed leadership qualities and who would be a good fit for the role.
“I like that, he’s in the middle of the park.” Pineda said. “You have someone who can talk, can pass messages to everyone because they are at the center of the team.”
Rossetto joined the club on Feb. 3, 2020, from Athletico Paranaense. Rossetto is a steady force in the midfield, finding pockets, moving the ball forward and knowing how to defend when needed to. Pineda has described the Brazilian midfield as cerebral, crediting Rossetto as a smart tactical player.
“Rossetto is a bit more cerebral.” Pineda said. “More the guy who is in good shape, waiting. He is kind of shadowing and when he sees the opportunity, he steals the ball, and he anticipates.”
Rossetto is just that, a very smart and efficient player. With over 91.8 percent successful passes, more than 60 percent of tackles won and over 780 minutes played, Rossetto continues to make a difference in the midfield. His reliability is what earned him the respect of his teammates, according to the Pineda.
“He has the respect of the locker room.” Pineda said. “He is always reliable on the field. You can always rely in tough moments he wants the ball. He wants to play with some personality on the field, he’s able to turn under pressure so the players respect him for that personality.”
Rossetto is also no stranger to the difficulties of injuries. Earlier in the season the midfielder missed some games after suffering an injury to his left hamstring during the D.C. United game on April 2. Rossetto did not make his return for several weeks.
Fans have gotten to know Rossetto on the pitch, but only see glimpses of the man off the pitch. Pineda describes Rossetto as a positive, funny and well-liked guy in the locker room.
“First of all, he’s a fantastic human being.” Pineda shared. “He’s a great human being. He’s very noble, a very good guy. He’s always smiling always has a good comment, positive comment. He has a good sense of humor.”
The role of captain hasn’t altered Rossetto. The role does carry new responsibilities on the pitch, being an advocate for his teammates, stepping in when he needs to but what his teammates and coach appreciate most about Rossetto is his consistency on and off the pitch.
“I don’t think he’s changed; he is who he is," Pineda said. “And that’s what I like about him. I don’t like when you give the captain’s armband to someone and they change, and I don’t give them the armband so that they can modify or change. I give it to them because they’ve earned it. I will say he’s taken more responsibility in his game, and he's done it well. But overall, he hasn’t changed. He’s still the type of player that leads by example in every training and every match.”