As it prepares to compete to try to win its third trophy in less than nine months, Atlanta United is deeper than it has been at any point this season. The team will host Minnesota Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. A victory would add that trophy to the MLS Cup won last season and the Campeones Cup won two weeks ago.
Just one player, Brek Shea (out for season), missed Monday’s training session. Even on the first day of training camp on Jan. 15 the team had more players missing than on Monday.
“It’s good,” manager Frank de Boer said fo the depth. “It keeps the competition high. Everybody has to be alert. Guys are coming back. I have to perform. If not, someone else will step in.”
Rejoining training on Monday were defender Franco Escobar, who didn’t participate in the past two games after sustaining an adductor injury in the win over Club America in the Campeones Cup on Aug. 14. Also training was midfielder Darlington Nagbe, who left Friday’s win over Orlando in the 61st minute after de Boer said he “felt something” in his legs.
De Boer said every player, except Shea, is available for minutes on Tuesday.
Though the team looked fatigued at Orlando, de Boer said he was impressed by energy and effort in Monday’s training session.
“I think two days of ‘cold weather’ helped also a little bit in our recovery,” de Boer said. “I was surprised how fresh they looked today and how concentrated they were. It’s a big game coming up. But a lot of confidence out of this training. They looked really, really good.”
Midfielder Julian Gressel said playing for a trophy always helps.
“... I've said it before, I think finals, your head is in a different area,” he said. “You just think about it differently and your body also will just feel differently. I'll be 100 percent up for it tomorrow and I'm already buzzing. I can't wait to get out there tomorrow and play that game at home and hopefully win another trophy.”
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