Atlanta United turns training camp focus to Mexico trip



Improving fitness and attacking movements will be Atlanta United’s focus during its training camp in Mexico, according to manager Gonzalo Pineda. The team is scheduled to fly to Guadalajara on Tuesday.

And it hopes to have a little bit of chemistry-building fun.

The team spent most of its first two weeks of training camp working on its defense, including the intensity of its pressure when the opponent has the ball. Still, it scored six goals in its two friendlies against two semi-professional sides.

Now, with some players such as striker Josef Martinez, who has been with Venezuela for its World Cup qualifying games, and Marcelino Moreno, who has missed the past week because of an injury, expected to join the team in Mexico, work on attacking will truly begin.

“We’re going to work a lot in Mexico, on how to unbalance positions, how to play out in the back, how to disrupt the midfield and how to attack in the final third,” Pineda said.

Pineda said the fitness levels of the team should increase. The team has three more friendlies scheduled in Mexico against Celaya on Feb. 6, against LIGA MX power Chivas on Feb. 13 and against Tepatitlan, also on Feb. 13. The games will be streamed on Times haven’t been announced.

“I think the three teams are going to be competitive and something different,” Pineda said. “So I want to see the reaction on the mental aspects of adapting to different situations in a game.”

Pineda said he has some fun things planned for the players, including paintball and soccer golf to build camaraderie.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan said the social aspects of an off-site training camp are fun, but the players are there to work with the goal of getting better every day. He said the club has set high goals for this season. He didn’t say what the goals are but most of the players have mentioned winning the MLS Cup when asked what they hope to accomplish this season. The team won the title in 2018.

“As every day comes with every training session, there will be more that’s being asked of us from the coaching staff, and it’s our job to try and pick that up as quick as possible and then implement that in games,” Guzan said. “And obviously, we’ve got some some friendlies lined up down there. And there’ll be opportunities, like I said, to get better day in and day out.”