Atlanta United’s Heinze confirms one signing, provides injury updates

Atlanta United celebrates the beginning of their 5th season with unveiling the 2021 team uniforms and the introduction of new coach Gabriel Heinze on Friday, Feb 26, 2021 during a drive-in at the Home Depot Backyard.  (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Atlanta United celebrates the beginning of their 5th season with unveiling the 2021 team uniforms and the introduction of new coach Gabriel Heinze on Friday, Feb 26, 2021 during a drive-in at the Home Depot Backyard. (Jenni Girtman for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Speaking to journalists for the first time since Atlanta United’s training camp opened Feb. 24, manager Gabriel Heinze on Saturday confirmed that the team has signed centerback Alan Franco and provided injury news about two more players.

  • Heinze said that the team signed Franco, a 24-year-old centerback who previously played at Independiente in Argentina, last week. Regarding transfers, Heinze shared that he gave Vice President Carlos Bocanegra a list of positions that included five names at each position. He wanted the club to pursue one of those names at each position. Heinze described not being able to sign centerback Lautaro Giannetti, who failed a physical because of an issue with his knee, as sad.
  • Midfielder Matheus Rossetto, who sustained an injury two weeks ago, is traveling to Brazil for personal reasons. Heinze didn’t say what the injury was or when Rossetto will return. Centerback Alex De John recently suffered an injury, but Heinze said the club hopes he will return next week.
  • He said the biggest challenge during training camp will be Sunday’s friendly at Birmingham. The teams are scheduled to play two 80-minute games. The first is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.
  • Fullback George Bello brings a lot of enthusiasm, and the coaches are working to help him understand advanced tactics. Heinze said that Bello, 19, has a lot of potential.
  • Two more young players, Santiago Sosa, 21, and Franco Ibarra, 19, are progressing well. Erik Lopez, 19, is being played at winger.
  • Heinze said that Josef Martinez is training every day, but that the team needs to be careful with him because it has been more than a year since he played in a competitive game. Martinez suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in last season’s opening game at Nashville.
  • Ezequiel Barco is being tried at different positions because of his quality on offense. Barco scored two goals in last week’s training exercise against Charleston.
  • The team has yet to begin working on its plan for Alajuelense, which it will face in its opening game in the Champions League on April 6 in Costa Rica. Heinze said the team is progressing well in its fitness and understanding and executing the tactics he wants and are on pace to be ready for the game.

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