Pineda: Atlanta United must improve "intensity" to stop losing skid


Atlanta United's recent struggles are mounting.

With Saturday's 3-1 Rivalry Week defeat against Charlotte FC – which saw former Atlanta man Justin Meram score twice for the visitors – Atlanta have dropped four straight matches across all competitions, including an early US Open Cup exit to USL Championship side Memphis 901 FC. The latest result, which avenged Charlotte's 3-0 loss at Bank of America Stadium in mid-March, has frustrations growing.

While Gonzalo Pineda's side remains fourth in the Eastern Conference on 18 points, they're also three points from falling out of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs places. With just one win since early April, the Five Stripes' form has become increasingly concerning.

"I feel like we are not at the level of intensity we need on and off the ball...we need to fix that first and then correct some other [areas]," the Atlanta head coach said. "They have to see what we need to do better. We already talked, and I expect better next time."

Adding salt to Atlanta's wound was the dismissal of Andrew Gutman in the 51st minute after Video Review determined the left back denied an obvious goalscoring opportunity in the box.

Pineda, though, felt that it was a "clear PK," while expressing disappointment over his team's mentality over the past two matches. That included a 2-1 loss at Inter Miami CF a week ago.

"It feels like the opponent wanted it a little bit more than us these last two games," Pineda said, stating his players had lost the "full determination" he saw from them at the beginning of the year. "They need to realize that every point at home is very valuable. We need to win at home every time, but we need to start with our mentality."

Their next opportunity at home comes Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids in Matchday 13 (7:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass). Along with Gutman, Atlanta will be without Caleb Wiley as he'll be at the FIFA U-20 World Cup with the United States over the next few weeks.

Pineda expressed optimism toward the talent level in his locker room, while noting their overall level of play needs to improve.

"I have a great squad. I have no questions about my team, no doubts. They have to understand that we all need to be better," Pineda said. "We just need to try to be more consistent throughout the 90 minutes in terms of intensity. ... When I talk about intensity, it's the first thing we need to correct."