Home News Gonzalo Pineda explains Atlanta United’s MLS Cup playoffs exit

Gonzalo Pineda explains Atlanta United’s MLS Cup playoffs exit

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Atlanta United’s 2023 MLS Cup playoffs run ended at Lower.com Field when losing 4-2 against Columbus Crew, inspiring head coach Gonzalo Pineda to blame defensive errors for his team’s demise.

This isn’t the first time that the former Seattle Sounders assistant brought up lapses on his side’s defending, prompting fans of the Five Stripes to question whether or not Pineda should remain in charge for the 2024 season and beyond.

“Leaking goals has been our achilles heel all season and one thing we definitely have to take look at and how we can solidify that,” Pineda said after the defeat. “That doesn’t mean the defenders, goalkeepers, center-mids only, it’s everyone as a whole. We need to do better.”

Atlanta had no problem scoring goals in 2023, finding the back of the net 66 times, which was only second to the Crew’s 67. But on the opposite end of the field, the Eastern Conference team conceded the sixth-most goals in MLS with 53, a telling sign that they were mere pretenders leading up to the playoffs.

“Well, we conceded a couple of goals from outside the box,” added Pineda.

“We were good at limiting big chances in the first half, but those two goals took us a little bit by surprise. On the first one by (Darlington) Nagbe, I think we can do better to block that shot. I think the angle we took on that one to block the shot was off. The second one is a great goal … They disrupted us on that play and then it’s a fantastic shot. After that, the third goal is a transition moment where we gave the ball away and didn’t react well.”

The Five Stripes hit a rough patch during the summer leading up to Leagues Cup, but were one of the best sides on paper after the continental tournament up until the playoffs. There was serious growth made Pineda’s team along with the additions of Tristan Muyumba, Saba Lobjanidze and Xande Silva, but they still were unable to get over the hump in several big-time matchups.

“I would say that it was an encouraging season. For me it’s going to take a longer analysis on the season … What I said earlier again is that we need to do better in the defensive phase. If we are able to maintain that level of attacking actions and production, but solidify a little bit more our backline and defensive structure as a whole, I think we can do better. The last 10 games were encouraging.”

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