Atlanta United likely impressed next manager with Wednesday’s win

What’s next for Atlanta United now that it has no more games to play during what is left of this horrible, no-good year?

Of most importance will be the naming of its new manager, reportedly Gabriel Heinze. Interim manager Stephen Glass wouldn’t speculate after Wednesday’s 1-0 victory against Club America who will be taking over for him, but did say that person should be impressed by the team’s performance in Orlando in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

“This group of players at the first opportunity to put themselves at the forefront of whoever the next manager is for next year,” Glass said. “They certainly did that. The last three games we beat Cincinnati, did very well at Columbus, maybe should have had a couple penalty kicks to better the result, and then beat Club America tonight.”

Among Wednesday’s standouts were:

  • Jackson Conway, who scored his first goal for the club in his first appearance with what is believed to be only his second touch. The goal came in the 82nd minute on a header after an assist from George Bello.
  • Erik Lopez, who also made his debut, was lively throughout the middle of the pitch. He finished with one shot on goal and several chances created in 76 minutes.
  • Ezequiel Barco was dangerous, taking two shots and, on another night, might have won a penalty in the first half.
  • The defense, composed of Brad Guzan, Franco Escobar, Miles Robinson, Fernando Meza, Bello and Eric Remedi, posted its eighth shutout.

“I’m proud of the team,” Glass said. “They did everything we asked them. We spoke yesterday about the first thing being can we win the game. We did that. We knew it was going to be very difficult to first win the game and second win it by three goals.”

The next manager will inherit a team whose parts seem better than this season’s results, which included failing to make the playoffs in MLS with a record of 6-13-14 and a goal difference of minus-7.

The next manager will benefit from the return of striker Josef Martinez, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in the first league game in March, as well as more time to work with Marcelino Moreno, who was limited to coming off the bench in the second half Wednesday, Jurgen Damm, who didn’t make the game-day roster because of an injury, and Barco. There also are less experienced but talented players, such as Robinson, Bello, Lopez, Brooks Lennon, and there are other Homegrown signings, such as Conway, midfielder Tyler Wolff and centerback George Campbell.

“I think we have a good group of players here,” Glass said. “They have been playing well at times throughout the year. It’s been easy to look at the results and say they are not playing well. We’ve had some individual errors at the back, some chances missed at the top end, but it’s been easy to just point to the result.”