Atlanta United: Q&A with Dallas’ Zimmerman

FC Dallas' Walker Zimmerman (25) stretches to steal the ball from Vancouver Whitecaps' Bernie Ibini-lsei (23) during the first half of an MLS soccer match in Frisco, Texas, Saturday, July 29, 2017. (Steve Hamm/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
FC Dallas' Walker Zimmerman (25) stretches to steal the ball from Vancouver Whitecaps' Bernie Ibini-lsei (23) during the first half of an MLS soccer match in Frisco, Texas, Saturday, July 29, 2017. (Steve Hamm/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

Credit: Steve Hamm

Credit: Steve Hamm

Walker Zimmerman, a native of Lawrenceville, is one of the young stars of MLS.

The centerback will play his first game in Atlanta with his club team, Dallas, on Sunday in the first soccer game in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Zimmerman said he expects as many 40 family members and friends to attend.

Zimmerman, 24, was selected in the first round of the 2013 SuperDraft after he spent two years at Furman.

He has become one of the league’s better defenders, resulting in a call-up to the U.S. men’s national team in January. He played very well in the team’s 1-0 win over Jamaica in February in Chattanooga.

Zimmerman answered a few questions by telephone ahead of Sunday’s game.

Q: How is your season going? I know you experienced an unfortunate injury.

A: Been going pretty well. One knock in the summer with the MCL that took a while. I was playing after 5 1/2 weeks. That’s been the only major knock this summer.

Q: Are you progressing professionally in a pace that satisfies you? 

A: For me, the next step is with the international level and getting involved with the national team. It was great getting my foot in the door in January.

The injury came at a bad time for the Gold Cup.

But I hope to finish strong and make a case next summer for the World Cup.

Q: What is the key to the game on Sunday?

A: We have to be aggressive from the start. There will be opportunities to get in behind their back line. But when we are committing numbers in the attack, we have to make sure we are organized.

Atlanta United is very good in transition and has very good speed.

Q: So, are your family and friends fans of Atlanta United or Dallas? 

A: For sure Dallas fans. Our friendship and blood take precedence over fandom.

Q: So, there’s no secret closet with Atlanta United gear?

A: My friends have Atlanta United stuff. My family does not. A lot of my friends have jerseys with Atlanta United.

Q: Have you seen Mercedes-Benz Stadium? 

A: I’ve seen the virtual tour. Had some friends went to a college football game. I can’t wait to see it in person.

Q: What has happened to Dallas’ season? Yall started well, hit a lull but seem to be gaining traction again. 

A: It was just a bunch of different things. Injuries came up a little bit. International duty for a lot of players. All of these things lead to inconsistences within the lineup. It’s difficult when you are rotating players every week.

Now we have everyone back.

There’s a little bit of international duty ahead of us in October.

For the most part and everyone is back and healthy and that will be key to having a successful run at the MLS cup.

Q: What do you think about having an MLS team in Atlanta? 

A: It’s going to be so cool to go back for that exact reason. Because there were no professional teams in the southeast we could never go to a game in person. For kids and youth players to have a chance to support a team that is crushing right now on the field and in the stands, I’m sure it’s fun for them to support Atlanta United.

In Other News