Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino wants to see his team improve its execution of tactics in Saturday’s preseason game against Columbus in Charleston, S.C.
He said the team performed well in its 4-0 win over Chattanooga in last week’s preseason debut. But Columbus, an MLS team that two years ago played for the league title, will offer a different test.
“It’s a team from the first division, from MLS, with some really important players,” he said. “The demand is higher in this game. I’m expecting more in this game.”
Martino said the team will use the same 4-2-3-1 formation Saturday that is used against Chattanooga. A difference in personnel may be Josef Martinez starting in the left side of the midfield in place of Yamil Asad, who Martino said picked up a minor injury in practice this week.
Asad and Martinez scored in last week’s win. Miguel Almiron also had a minor injury last week, but he played against Chattanooga.
Martino said Martinez is versatile enough that he can play as a lone striker, second striker, left wing or in the midfield.
The formations and personnel may change in the remaining two games Atlanta United will play in Charleston as part of the Carolina Challenge Cup. The team will play MLS champs Seattle on Wednesday and Charleston on Feb. 25.
Columbus has yet to play a preseason game, so Martino said he and his staff are scouting the Crew’s players and trying to predict how they will play.
Atlanta United centerhalf Michael Parkhurst is very familiar with Columbus, its players and tactics because he was the team’s captain as part of 100 appearances.
“I’m excited,” Parkhurst said. “It will be our first real challenge as far as another MLS team.”
Columbus may offer a perfect test for Atlanta United in its goal of improving its press. Parkhurst said team has been working to improve it in practice and that the Crew will work hard to try to break the press.
“It will be a true test of things we will do well and things we don’t do well,” Parkhurst said.