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ATLANTA, GEORGIA—Atlanta United used the international FIFA break to concentrate on their own needs. They have been focusing on finishing as one of their skills. Atlanta United has had numerous scoring opportunities throughout the last two games but has only managed to score once. That goal came in Atlanta’s 1-0 victory over Orlando City SC at Exploria Stadium.

“I think we just have to have more confidence, more confidence in what we’re doing and more confidence in all of our teammates because we have players who are in those positions who are very capable,” midfielder Matheus Rossetto said.

Therefore, in practice, the team is focusing on the attack, quickening play, and emphasizing converting their chances. Players are attempting to score by utilizing the opportunities that have been presented to them and the locations they have been placed in. Atlanta United had six shots, but none of them were on goal, so the game ended in a 0-0 draw.

Pineda wanted to give his players more playing time and stress being more clinical in the last third as the season neared its conclusion so that they would be rewarded for their opportunities. “The past two weeks, we’ve been working on us and the principles that we want to do, how we want to play, trying to be sharper in certain things, especially in both boxes. That’s what we are working on,” Pineda said.

Atlanta United had good defensive performances in the previous two games against two teams that are now above the playoff line. Atlanta also just had two straight shutouts, defeating Philadelphia Union on September 17 and Orlando City SC on September 14. Atlanta United limited the Supporters Shield contenders to their lowest projected goals of the season in the scoreless draw with Philadelphia (0.16).

Raúl Gudiño, the starting goalie, shares some of the credit for that defensive accomplishment. Gudiño, a 26-year-old veteran with international experience with Mexico’s men’s national team, has impressed his head coach with his ability to solidify the backline. Pineda added that Gudiño has been a vocal leader and has demonstrated times when he can slow down and read the game well, as evidenced by the save of the month for September that he made against Orlando City to preserve the team’s clean sheet.

The backline has also benefited from consistency. Pineda fielded the same starting lineup against Philadelphia for the third straight game. Growing familiarity has aided in the goalie and the defenders’ effective team play, particularly in the backline.

Although Gudiño has been excellent in goal, Pineda thinks the consecutive clean sheets were achieved by everyone from the no. 9 goalkeeper on up. “I think we just need to continue to do what we’ve been doing in the past few games, working well both offensively and defensively. For me, it’s about being prepared for however many saves I have to make,” Gudiño said.

The identity Pineda wants his team to embody is still attempting to play on the front foot and create more chances than the opposition, even though he has been pleased with that defensive effort.