Moreno a ‘much-needed offensive spark’ for Atlanta United

Atlanta United introduced Marcelino Moreno on Thursday.

Credit: Atlanta United

Credit: Atlanta United

Marcelino Moreno cited Atlanta United’s history with sending players to Europe, its fan base and “beautiful” facilities as reasons for joining the MLS club.

In his first interview since his signing was announced Sept. 22, Moreno on Thursday said he will meet his teammates for the first time before Saturday’s game against the New York Red Bulls at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Moreno, who will be available to play in that game, hasn’t met or trained with them because he is going through the 10-day COVID-19 quarantine protocol. Because of the team’s schedule, Moreno actually won’t train with the large group until next week.

Team vice president Carlos Bocanegra said adding Moreno will be a boost to a team that has earned seven points from its past four games and is starting to show more confidence. Atlanta United (5-8-3) is in ninth place in the MLS East with seven games remaining. Ten teams will qualify for the playoffs.

“A much-needed offensive spark … is going to be very much welcome for us,” Bocanegra said.

That spark will come from Moreno’s speed, his composure and his intelligence. Using an interpreter, Moreno said he thinks he will be able to create chances for his teammates. He said he can play on the right, the left or as an attacking midfielder.

But don’t expect him to say much more.

“Very humble,” Bocanegra said. “Man of few words off the field. Shows with his play on the field what he’s on about.”

Moreno, 25, has been able to watch Atlanta United’s games only on television and not in person. He said the style of building out of the back is similar to what was played at his previous club, Lanus in Argentina.

Moreno was going through preseason camp at Lanus, so he arrived in Atlanta mostly in shape. He has been training by himself, and Bocanegra said that Moreno looks fit. As for expectations, Moreno should be given a few games to settle and to understand his teammates and the league, Bocanegra said.

“Build the expectations week by week with him,” Bocanegra said.

Atlanta United's Marcelino Moreno is shown training at the team's facility in Marietta. (Photo courtesy of Atlanta United)

Credit: Atlanta United

Credit: Atlanta United

Bocanegra said the team’s goal remains to make the playoffs and that Moreno, in addition to others who are regaining health, will help. He noted that Jurgen Damm recently rejoined the team, coming off the bench the past two games. Matheus Rossetto is close to rejoining, as is Ezequiel Barco.

Moreno is the team’s sixth DP, following Hector Villalba, Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, Barco and Pity Martinez. Almiron, whom Moreno played with at Lanus, was sold to Newcastle in England’s Premier League following the 2018 season. Pity Martinez, bought from River Plate before the 2019 season, was sold to a club in Saudi Arabia in September. Villalba, whose DP status was bought down to make way for Barco, was sold to a club during the 2019 preseason.

Moreno said he had a very good relationship with Almiron at Lanus. The two didn’t talk as much after Almiron joined the Five Stripes before the 2017 season. Almiron scored 21 goals with 28 assists in helping the team win the MLS Cup in 2018. That paved the way for a move of more than $20 million to Newcastle.

“Saw he went on to Europe, and that influenced me,” Moreno said.

Atlanta United coming games

Saturday vs. New York Red Bulls (4-6-2), 6 p.m., FSSO

Oct. 14 at Miami (3-7-2), 8 p.m., FSSE

Oct. 18 at Toronto (6-2-4) in Hartford, Conn., 7:30 p.m., FSSE

Oct. 24 vs. D.C. United (2-5-5), 4 p.m., FSSE

Oct. 28 at Orlando (6-2-4), 7:30 p.m., FS1

Nov. 1 vs. Cincinnati (3-6-3), 7 p.m., FSSE

Nov. 8 at Columbus (8-1-3), 3:30 p.m., FSSE

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