Atlanta United players to watch in this quick camp

October 24, 2020 Atlanta - Atlanta United's midfielder Ezequiel Barco (8) reacts after he fouled D.C. United's defender Chris Odoi-Atsem (3) during the first half in a MLS soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, October 24, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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October 24, 2020 Atlanta - Atlanta United's midfielder Ezequiel Barco (8) reacts after he fouled D.C. United's defender Chris Odoi-Atsem (3) during the first half in a MLS soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, October 24, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

After taking the past weeks off to rest and reflect on a season gone wrong, Atlanta United’s players reconvened on Monday to begin preparing to overcome improbability: turning over a 3-0 deficit against Club America in the second leg of Champions League quarterfinal series.

The game really feels like an afterthought because of the complexity of the challenge.

Instead, the next two weeks are an opportunity for certain players to impress the next manager and put a claim on a starting spot, or at least playing minutes, for next season. After all, the training camp for the 2021 MLS season will open in about two months.

ExploreAtlanta United still in search of next manager

Here are some of those players:

Erik Lopez, striker. Much is expected from Lopez, based upon how many times his name shows up in my Twitter feed going back to this summer. But here’s the thing: he’s 19 and has just 12 appearances as a professional. Here is the most important thing: he plays the same position as Josef Martinez, who is scheduled to return next season. Martinez operates best as a single striker because there’s more space for him to potentially exploit. Instead of striker, this may be an opportunity for Lopez to challenge for time at left or right wing. It remains to be seen if Ezequiel Barco, typically the left wing, will be with the team when it starts training camp in 2021. Jurgen Damm, likely the starter on the right, has had an unfortunate issue with injuries.

Ezequiel Barco, winger. A good performance against Club America may be his last opportunity as an Atlanta United player to show other teams that he should be in their plans. It can be argued that he hasn’t done that as often as anyone would have liked in three seasons with the club with just 10 goals and nine assists in 56 appearances. For context, Seattle’s Jordan Morris scored 10 goals with eight assists ... this season. Orlando’s Chris Mueller had 10 goals with seven assists ... this season. Barco has talent. It’s time to consistently show it.

ExploreLennon, Kann out for Club America game

Marcelino Moreno, midfielder. Moreno doesn’t have anything to prove. Instead, these two weeks are a chance for him to really get to work with his teammates. Those opportunities weren’t there in the season’s final third because of the glut of games. There wasn’t a lot of true training sessions.

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Atlanta United's Marcelino Moreno controls the ball during a 2-1 loss to Columbus on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020.

Atlanta United's Marcelino Moreno controls the ball during a 2-1 loss to Columbus on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020.

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Atlanta United's Marcelino Moreno controls the ball during a 2-1 loss to Columbus on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020.

Mo Adams, midfielder. The team is thin at defensive midfielder. Vice president Carlos Bocanegra decided that they aren’t going to re-sign Jeff Larentowicz. Eric Remedi had disappointing season. Once he began to start consecutive games, Adams began to show his skill as a player who can connect defense to offense in ways sometimes similar to his predecessor, Darlington Nagbe. If he has recovered from his undisclosed injury, this is a chance to show the next manager that he should be in his plans.

Matheus Rossetto and Emerson Hyndman, midfielders. Two players who seem to be competing for the same starting spot. Neither seem best-equipped for defensive midfielder. Both seem best as attacking midfielders, which is now Moreno’s spot. So, that leaves the role as the quasi-defensive midfielder, quasi-attacking midfielder. Hyndman played that role fairly well in 2019. The two went in different directions this season. Hyndman started well and finished slowly, totaling two goals and two assists in 20 appearances. Rossetto started slowly and finished well but still scored no goals and had no assists in 15 appearances.