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Seattle Sounders FC vs. Atlanta United FC Pick & Prediction AUG 6th 2022

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Atlanta United coach Gonzalo Pineda could take a major step toward getting his team into the playoffs if he can beat former mentor and Seattle Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer at home on Saturday afternoon.

Pineda was Schmetzer's top assistant before departing to take the Atlanta job midway through the 2021 season.

Pineda managed to steer Atlanta to the playoffs that season. But after a promising start, his first full campaign in charge has been more difficult, with Atlanta (6-9-7, 25 points) winning only three of its past 17 league games.

That leaves the home team sitting 12th in the Eastern Conference and four points beneath the playoff line. Club all-time leading scorer Josef Martinez has only five goals thus far, and has at times been sidelined in favor of Ronaldo Cisneros, who has six.

And on Saturday, Atlanta will be tasked with beating an opposing coach Pineda thinks is the best in the league.

"I'm facing the best coach in MLS, no question about it," Pineda said. "I haven't seen any other coach who has achieved what Brian has achieved. And me working closely with him for four-and-a-half years, I know why he achieved that many things."

Schmetzer has two MLS Cup titles, four MLS Cup finals appearances and the 2022 CONCACAF Champions League title to his name. But Seattle (10-11-2, 32 points) has not been the best version of itself in 2022 league play.

Striker Raul Ruidiaz has been limited by injury to 10 appearances and five goals, though he returned from his latest layoff in Tuesday's 1-0 home win over Dallas. Midfielder Joao Paulo suffered a season-ending ACL tear in the Champions League final. And the Sounders have lost three in a row on the road.

Seattle enters the weekend holding the seventh and final playoff spot in the West, having never missed the postseason since joining MLS in 2009.

"What I'm looking for for our team is some consistency," Schmetzer said. "Because we've been up-down, up-down, up-down, and that's, maybe it's normal because of our circumstance and some of those issues. But going into the playoffs, if we get there, we have to be more consistent."

--Field Level Media
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