With all the defensive injuries they’re suffering right now, Atlanta United are lucky they can call upon one of the most fearsome forward lines in Major League Soccer.
The Five Stripes boast the trio of Thiago Almada, Luiz Araujo, and Marcelino Moreno, while Mexican loanee Ronaldo Cisneors has been in fine form recently. And that’s without mentioning iconic striker Josef Martinez, who is back in training and nearing a return to matchday action.
Whether Cisneros will be moved to the bench or Martinez used as a ‘super-sub’ on his return – or even if the two are paired together – remains to be seen. But that debate is further proof of their attacking riches.
Atlanta have scored at least two goals in their last four matches across all competitions as the aforementioned quartet begin to build chemistry and understanding. They’d have likely advanced into the next round of the US Open Cup and taken more than five points in MLS during that run if not for injuries to key players further back such as Miles Robinson, Brad Guzan, and Ozzie Alonso.
Still, the more Atlanta United’s attack plays and trains together, the more ruthless it’ll become, and eventually, it could even prove to be the crutch that guides the club into the MLS Cup Playoffs in spite of rotten fitness luck.
“It helps us a lot because we’re on the field together. We’re getting more minutes playing together and we can have a better understanding, so the minutes helps a lot,” Moreno said following a midweek training session.
He added: “I think now that we’re playing more together, the group has better chemistry. So, that can lead to more chances for us, and that’s the main difference we’re seeing.
“We know that we have the individual and collective quality to always be able to convert. We just have to do it, but I think that’s the strength of this team.”
- Ronaldo Cisneros – 4
- Thiago Almada – 3
- Marcelino Moreno – 2
- Josef Martinez – 2
- Luiz Araujo – 2
- Marcelino Moreno – 3
- Thiago Almada – 2
- Josef Martinez – 2
- Brooks Lennon – 2
- Luiz Araujo – 1
Following last weekend’s 2-2 comeback draw away at Nashville SC, head coach Gonzalo Pineda hinted that he may look to overwhelm opponents with his star-studded forward line in an effort to take the heat of his defense.
“Another good way [to defend] is just attack more and just continue with the attack because every time Thiago [Almada] is on the ball in the attacking half, Marcelino [Moreno], Luiz [Araújo], we look dangerous,” he said.
“We look with some sense of danger in the opposing goal. So we just need to attack more than what we defend and when we defend, always, we need to be more solid.”
Atlanta United are eighth in the Eastern Conference, just below the MLS Cup Playoff line ahead of this weekend’s visit of the Columbus Crew.