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Atlanta United’s Williams ready to fight for playing time

The shot, taken from around 18 yards, curls into the right, top corner of the goal as if it were guided there by remote control.

Romario Williams doesn’t even react after executing the nice piece of skill. He turns around and heads back up the pitch.

 

Williams hopes to do a bit more that - scoring - this season for Atlanta United.

“I’m excited for what’s in store,” he said.

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Williams, 24, has had difficulty finding minutes on a stacked Atlanta United frontline led by Josef Martinez the past two seasons. Williams went on loan in 2017 but stayed with the first team last season, scoring one goal in 17 appearances that totaled 210 minutes.

A high ankle sprain suffered near the end of the regular season prevented him from participating in the MLS Cup run.

There was some thought that Williams might leave in the offseason, either to try to find a team where he would play more, or because some of the teams in MLS that had trouble scoring last season would make Atlanta United an offer to acquire him. He’s big (5-foot-11), fast and has a poacher’s instinct.

However, the option on his contract was picked up by Atlanta United in the offseason, giving him another season to ply his trade in Atlanta under new manager Frank de Boer. 

“Whenever you get the opportunity to represent the best team in the country, that’s always something you hold close,” he said. “That’s a pleasure. You never take it for granted. Do what’s asked of you, be a professional and work hard.”

Williams may get more chances this season because of an Atlanta United schedule glutted by CONCACAF Champions League, MLS and U.S. Open Cup games. Williams pointed out that in the team is guaranteed at least five games in the first four weeks, which will start Feb. 21 at Herediano in Costa Rica, and possibly as many as seven before March 21.

Williams said his expectations are to control his attitude, his professionalism and his work rate. He said he  and his teammates are receiving positive feedback from the coaching staff in the preseason.

“Every player here wants to play,” he said. “It’s all about competition. Competition is very hard. It’s not an easy team to get into. I’m prepared for the challenge. I’m motivated and I’m ready to go.”

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