Atlanta United players do well in MLS All-Star game

Michael Parkhurst stood in the MLS All-Star game locker room, holding a white jersey signed in black ink by each of his teammates after Wednesday’s exhibition against Juventus at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Smiling, the 34-year-old said he didn’t keep a jersey last year when the game was in Chicago against Real Madrid.

“I thought, ‘Man, I should have,’ so I did it this year,” he said after playing the game’s final 28 minutes.

It seemed each of the five Atlanta United players who participated in Wednesday’s game had good moments.

Striker Josef Martinez scored the only goal for the MLS. In Martinez's typical daring style, he somehow headed the ball in, avoided crashing into the post while leaping over one Juventus defender and landing on another. He was named the game's MVP and will try to extend his lead in the race for the Golden Boot when Atlanta United hosts Toronto on Saturday.

“It’s great that he just stays on a roll,” Parkhurst said. “He knew he was only going to play about 30 minutes tonight, so he was going hard. It was a great goal again. He started the play by getting in the box and knocking it across. He stuck with the play and another fearless goal. He sticks his head right in there and almost gets crushed in the face again. But he doesn’t care that he already has a broken nose. The goal is more important for him. We are happy that he got another one.”

Miguel Almiron’s 60-yard run through the middle of Juventus’ defense in the first half was one that Atlanta United’s supporters have seen a few times in other games this season. He played 45 minutes and had one shot.

“Every time I step on the field I try and give my best performance,” Almiron said. “Today was another one of those times. I think I took the game really seriously against a very good team, a very intense game, and as I said, we took it very seriously.”

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan was the third Atlanta United player to start, along with Almiron and Martinez. Guzan made three saves and was subbed for Zack Steffen at halftime.

“I thought it was a competitive game,” he said. “The pace of the game was obviously a good standard. We created a few more chances and unfortunately we couldn’t put one (more) away.”

Ezequiel Barco came on in the 32nd minute and put in a solid 30 minutes. His volleyed shot forced a save in the first half. He also created several scoring opportunities. Barco hasn’t played in the past two Atlanta United games after committing an act of indiscipline, according to manager Gerardo Martino.

“I worked hard, it was good to be back with my teammates again,” he said. “I have to keep working. Two games is a tough time to come back from.”