MLS Atlanta looks to build for momentum vs. Orlando City

Atlanta United will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this season Sunday afternoon when they host rivals Orlando City SC.

Ronaldo Cisneros scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season for Atlanta (6-8-5, 23 points) early in a 2-1 home win over Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night. Cisneros is now the team’s leading scorer this season, passing Josef Martinez’s five.

And United manager Gonzalo Pineda, whose team last won consecutive games in September 2021, hopes the victory may mark a turning point for his team after they were badly beaten 3-0 at home to Austin FC the previous weekend.

“I can’t say I saw everything I wanted to see, but I can tell you I saw the most important part,” Pineda said. “I wanted to see that fight, but as a team. And I think we did everything as a team. Whether we can play better at times, create more chances, be more clinical in the final third, yes, all that is good. But we were attacking as a team and defending as a team.”

Following the defeat to Austin, which left Atlanta winless in four games, Martinez made remarks to the media critical of his teammates’ commitment to the club. Wednesday he was left on the bench for the first 77 minutes against RSL before coming on late.

He has scored eight goals in his career against Orlando, his most against any club.

Atlanta is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and needs to make a move to reach the playoff line.

Meanwhile, Orlando (8-7-5, 29 points) arrives in Atlanta following a 1-1 draw at the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night. For the Lions, who are fifth in the Eastern Conference, all five ties have come on the road.

Facundo Torres scored his fourth goal of the year in the 22nd minute to give Orlando the lead. Pedro Gallese made several exceptional saves after halftime, but eventually conceded the equalizer to Gyasi Zardes in the 66th minute.

Still, Orlando manager Oscar Pareja left Denver pleased to take a point from one of the more difficult settings for road teams, especially since his team was also tackling the challenge of playing at altitude on short rest.

“A good point in a difficult place,” Pareja said. “I’d like to recognize the effort of the players with this continuity and proximity of the games, traveling and all those things. I think we’re finding ways to get results.”

–Field Level Media

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