Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda on Sunday’s 2-0 victory over visiting Philadelphia: “It was a great performance individually and collectively.” Photo by Donnell Suggs/The Atlanta Voice

Atlanta United returned to Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sunday afternoon and defeated the Philadelphia Union 2-0 in front of 43,527. In the process United won it’s 8th game of the season (8-5-8 overall) and moved a point ahead of Philadelphia in the standings in the process.

“It was a great performance individually and collectively,” said United manager Gonzalo Pineda after the match. Pineda credited Philadelphia for being a good team.

“Today we were on the ball, but very good overall,” said Pineda. “We were just solid.”

The home match follows a 4-0 loss to New York Red Bull Saturday, June 24. Currently 6th in the Major League Soccer Eastern Conference standings, Atlanta United wouldn’t be home for long as they only have two home matches during the month of July. The next being Saturday, July 15 against rival Orlando FC.

Home cooking

Atlanta United forward Thiago Almada celebrates with his fists raised high after scoring a goal during a Major League Soccer match against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, March 18, 2023 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice

Atlanta got started early Sunday, drawing a free kick right outside the Philadelphia goal. Moments later midfielder Thiago Almada (left), one of the frontrunners for the league’s Most Valuable Player award, missed a free kick, but immediately scored an unassisted gaol on the rebound from the same distance. The goal was his eighth of the season to go along with his team high nine assists.

Atlanta kept the pressure on through the first half, manufacturing a number of quality scoring opportunities.

Team leader in goals scored, Giorgos Giakoumakis, nearly made it 2-0 in favor of United before his shot was saved in the 23rd minute. He would leave the game in 29th minute with an injury. Walking off on his own power, he was replaced by Miguel Berry. Atlanta would go on to dominate possession during the first half of the match, including the five-minute extra time that was tacked on.

Brooks Lennon put Atlanta ahead 2-0 with a strike in the 78th minute. The goal was Lennon’s second of the season.

The bright side

On the bright side there will be two home matches during the month of August. Atlanta United will host rival Nashville FC Saturday, August 26 before returning to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to host Cincinnati four days later on Wednesday, August 30.

Multiple All-Stars

Both Almada and Giakoumakis were selected to the Major League Soccer All-Star team. The game is scheduled for Wednesday, July 19 against English Premier League side Arsenal.

All 21 for number 22

Atlanta United defender Juan Jose Purata has played in and started all 21 games this season. He is the only member of the team to have done so.

Asked what Purata means to the team, Pineda said, “Since he arrived he has been very consistent. He’s always the first one to arrive last one to leave. He’s a guy that is very, very committed to the cause.”

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...