Atlanta United’s Gressel reaches 100 appearances

Julian Gressel clears a ball Wednesday, July 17,  2019, against Houston at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Julian Gressel clears a ball Wednesday, July 17,  2019, against Houston at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Julian Gressel punctuated his 100th appearance across all competitions with Atlanta United with a goal and two assists in Wednesday's 5-0 win against Houston.

“It’s actually a really cool accomplishment,” he said. “I’m the first one to do it coming out of the draft. Nobody really expected it.”

Gressel has been invaluable for Atlanta United since the team selected him with the eighth pick in the 2017 SuperDraft.

The native of Germany has started at least six different positions under two different managers. He won the Rookie of the Year in 2017 and helped the team win the MLS Cup in 2018. He has 13 goals and 28 assists in 86 appearances in MLS during the regular season and one assist in six appearances in the playoffs. He scored two goals in the Champions League this year.

Gressel showed how his dangerous he can be, particularly when playing wide on the right on Wednesday by finishing with seven chances created.

“I think it’s no secret I like to play out on the right as a wing back,” he said. “I’m not shying away from any work you have to do with that. Did a lot of running tonight. Ultimately, you saw today that it gets me in pretty good spots down that right side. I think one of my best qualities is to pick out the right pass. Today, a couple came off. A couple others ones were good, where we didn’t score. But, whatever the coach thinks is the best approach to go into games, that’s where I’ll stand 100% behind him.”

Gressel’s first assist came on Darlington Nagbe’s opener when he played a simple pass to the penalty spot. His second came on a chipped pass across the penalty box for Josef Martinez to head into the goal. Gressel’s goal came on a pass that was deflected to him on the right side of the penalty box for him to blast into the lower left corner.

“Yeah, I think that it was more suitable for him, because he likes to run, make crosses and he has a good (feel) of the moment,” manager Frank de Boer said. “Always his first control, and then he knows where Josef (Martinez) is, and that’s a good combination. I knew that, but sometimes you think, ‘OK, you have to choose between two choices’, and sometimes, it’s more beneficial for the team to put him in the midfield, where I also think he did well. I think his position is on the right side, that’s for sure.”

Gressel said he wasn’t going to celebrate his 100th appearance. Maybe play a round of golf on Thursday.

As for what he hopes to accomplish in his next 100 appearances?

“Hopefully the same exact thing,” Gressel said. “Some more titles. Some more trophies.”

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