Pressure mounts on Gonzalo Pineda as Atlanta United face injury crisis
“We have a very good sports science department. We measure everything. We reflect on everything we do. I think they do a very, very good job,” said Pineda. “Their standard is very high and obviously, we will check again, but I don’t think there’s anything particularly different to what we’re doing compared to last year or even years before.
“I mean, at times you just have bad luck and we just have to try to find a solution.”
The former Seattle Sounders assistant started his Atlanta adventure impressively, stacking up a 7W-3D-4L record after his August arrival to steer ATLUTD into the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, a fine achievement in the wake of Gabriel Heinze’s mostly disastrous regime. It felt like a new dawn for the club, a charismatic young leader installing fresh ideas and the lessons of a winning culture from his previous employer.
Pineda, 39, is still a young manager – the third-youngest in MLS, in fact. And if some bumps were always likely in his first full season as a head coach, being robbed of so much top talent and loose-room leadership has imposed an even harsher reality check than expected. His squad’s relative inexperience has shown itself, too, with naivete and a propensity for concentration lapses costing them on several matchdays.
In Nashville, a cheaply-given penalty kick foul by Alan Franco just after halftime cracked the door for NSC to begin their rally from 2-0 down. Some slipshod set-piece defending opened it further, culminating in what SBNation’s ATLUTD site Dirty South Soccer dubbed a “demoralizing collapse” in a tournament the Five Stripes were technically still defending champions from their 2019 conquest.
“In certain moments, little details – we talk about set pieces, we work a lot on set pieces, we work a lot on the long throw-ins. Just little pieces of lack of concentration or pressing at the right times,” Pineda lamented. “Anyways, I felt that the team fought. They did well for many parts, but it’s just that little pieces were not as focused and the opponent is very clinical. The opponent gets one chance and they put it in the net.”