Atlanta United trying to set a standard on Day 1 of camp

Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan (1) warms up before the match against NYCFC Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Credit: Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United

caption arrowCaption
Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan (1) warms up before the match against NYCFC Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Credit: Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United

Though missing its manager and almost half its roster, Atlanta United held its training session for the MLS season Tuesday at its training ground in Marietta.

ExploreMore AJC coverage of Atlanta United

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, one of the team’s captains last season, said being familiar with Gonzalo Pineda after his arrival during the middle of the 2021 season should make this a more efficient training camp. Pineda couldn’t be there Tuesday because he is in the health and safety protocols. The session was led by assistant Rob Valentino.

Still, there was a purpose to Tuesday.

“Right now, it’s making sure that we set a standard for ourselves that we know is acceptable in terms of work rate, in terms of what we’re getting out of training,” Guzan said. “I think those are important steps to make sure that we can ultimately achieve the goals that we set out.”

Last year’s goal was to win MLS Cup. The team was beaten in the first round of the MLS playoffs by eventual champ NYCFC at Yankee Stadium.

That the team even made the playoffs is a credit to Valentino, Pineda and the players after the disastrous start under previous manager Gabriel Heinze, who was fired after 13 games and only 13 points accumulated. The team finished with 51 points and in fifth in the East.

“When you look at 2021, there wasn’t enough consistency, there wasn’t enough of a demand from all of us, in terms of the group, in terms of the coaches,” Guzan said. “It’s obviously difficult to have that midseason when you bring in a new manager because he’s trying to hit the ground running in a very short amount of time. I think with a preseason, it certainly allows us that time frame to now try and really grasp the concepts of what they want us to do. But then also hold each other accountable and hold each other to a high standard and have a real understanding of what it takes.”

With the probable exception of Ezequiel Barco, who likely is leaving on loan, 10 starters will return from the team: striker Josef Martinez, midfielders Luiz Araujo, Marcelino Moreno, Franco Ibarra and Santiago Sosa, wingbacks George Bello and Brooks Lennon, centerbacks Miles Robinson and Alan Franco, and Guzan. The team also added veteran Ozzie Alonso to help it perform better in close games and add experience to a young midfield.

Additionally, if the team loans Barco, it could add attacking midfielder Thiago Almada. There also are several Homegrown signings who gained experience last season. That group includes Tyler Wolff, George Campbell, Machop Chol and Jackson Conway.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say the starting 11 (now) is the starting 11 (later),” Guzan said. “We need to make sure that whoever’s on the field, that it’s giving ourselves the best chance to win games. And, I think when you make the group better, you make obviously starting 11 better, and that part is is going to be important because last year we fell short. And we need to make sure that this year we can learn from that and look to be a better team.”

For more content about Atlanta United

Follow me on Twitter @DougRobersonAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta United News Now

On Instagram at DouglasDavidRoberson

Atlanta United coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1

March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 9 at Charlotte, 3 p.m., ESPN

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 2 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

August 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas