Castro ready to get started with Atlanta United

Atlanta United midfielder Manuel Castro #15 during Training at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday March 6, 2020. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Credit: Manuel Castro

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Atlanta United midfielder Manuel Castro #15 during Training at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday March 6, 2020. (Photo by Jacob Gonzalez/Atlanta United)

Credit: Manuel Castro

Credit: Manuel Castro

Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer finally got to meet Manuel Castro last week. He liked what he saw and is seeing.

When will Castro arrive was a weekly question to de Boer from the time the player’s loan-to-buy acquisition was announced on Feb. 10. It was a question that de Boer started to express some exasperation with because he needed him as injuries began to accumulate.

Turns out, Castro said the visa process takes 12-15 days in Uruguay and Argentina. Castro is from Uruguay and played in Argentina for Estudiantes. He said part of the delay may have been the clubs working out details.

But Castro arrived in Atlanta on Thursday, worked out with the team on Friday, attended Saturday’s game and trained again with the team on Monday.

“I’m happy to be here,” he said through a translator. “It’s good to finally meet the group. Process took a little bit longer than we wanted to, but here I am.”

De Boer said he likes Castro’s endurance, fitness -- he worked with a coach at his former club for the past few weeks to stay prepared -- and his eagerness to play. Both practice days that Castro participated in were recovery sessions, so the players didn’t do much with the ball.

De Boer said he thinks, if needed, Castro can go 30 minutes in Wednesday’s game against Club America in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal series.  Atlanta United will host Sporting KC on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“We will use him this coming week because of the overload of programs we have,” de Boer said. “He will get his minutes.”

Castro said he prefers to play on either the right or left wing. De Boer said he thinks Castro could play any of the positions up front.

The 24-year-old made 29 appearances with three goals and one assist for Estudiantes. He scored 17 goals with 13 assists in 87 appearances for Montevideo in Uruguay. Most of his appearances with the two clubs came as right midfielder or winger.

Castro said he spoke with former or current Estudiantes players Leandro Gonzalez Pirez and Gaston Fernandez about the club before the move.

Though the deal between Atlanta United and Estudiantes is a loan to buy, Castro said he doesn’t feel pressure to perform.

“As a player, I will just try to do the things I do well on the field and enjoy myself,” he said.