MLS

Atlanta United v Los Angeles FC: Pineda insists Five Stripes 'on the right path'

By Sports Desk May 24, 2024

Gonzalo Pineda insists Atlanta United "are on the right path" as they look to get back to winning ways in MLS.

The Five Stripes are 12th in the Eastern Conference following a run of eight matches without victory.

Although, they enjoyed a reprieve in the U.S. Open Cup last time out, defeating Charleston Battery on penalties to reach the quarter-finals.

And Pineda hopes his side can build on that momentum when they welcome Los Angeles to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

"I think we are on the right path," he said. "I think it is really encouraging for the team, for the mentality of the team, to win. 

"There are many positives out of that. We have to hold onto that positivity, and the mentality of the players that fought and put that together on Saturday."

"I think that, especially being at home, we need to make sure we are on the front foot right away," midfielder Dax McCarty added.

"Obviously, our stadium is such a fortress. When you score an early goal, you get everyone excited and the other team feels that pressure, which is such a benefit."

By contrast, LAFC are fifth in the West and on a four-match winning streak across all competitions – during which they have scored 11 goals and conceded just once.

"The team is in a good way – winning games, scoring goals and not conceding – and we'd like to continue that," head coach Steve Cherundolo said.

"We feel good about the moment we're in, and our players are confident. 

"The players have shown an amazing response [to their defeat by San Jose Earthquakes at the start of the month]. We were shooting ourselves in the foot by making some mistakes in portions of the field where we don't usually do that.

"The message was that we are really in control of our own destiny, which is a great place to be."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Atlanta United – Thiago Almada

Atlanta will be hoping for inspiration from the likes of Almada as they look to end their winless streak.

The Argentina international has scored in two of their last three league games on home soil.

Los Angeles FC – Denis Bouanga

Bouanga scored both goals in LAFC’s 2-0 win over St. Louis City last time out in MLS.

He has now found the net 33 times since the start of last season (including play-offs), seven more than any other player during that time.

MATCH PREDICTION: LOS ANGELES FC

Only once in their MLS history have Atlanta endured a longer winless streak, going 12 straight games without victory between May and August 2021.

Meanwhile, LAFC have won successive games to nil for the first time during the regular season since August 2022.

That came after they recorded just one victory while keeping a clean sheet in their previous 21 such matches.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Atlanta United: 38.2%
Los Angeles FC: 32.8%
Draw: 29.0%

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