5 questions with Atlanta United’s Julian Gressel

Julian Gressel.

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Julian Gressel.

Atlanta United rookie midfielder Julian Gressel has two goals and three assists in the past four games.

The German is tied for 12th in assists (5) in MLS and is the leader among rookies.

So, that’s pretty good.

And then there’s this stat put out by MLS on Wednesday: According to Opta, in 968 minutes with Gressel on the field, the team averages 2.3 goals scored and 1.3 goals conceded per 90 minutes played. In the 274 minutes without Gressel, the categories are one goals scored and two goals conceded per 90 minutes played.

Gressel answered a few questions after Wednesday’s training session ahead of Saturday’s game at Chicago, which features his idol, Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Q: The league put out a stat today that the team scores more goals and concedes fewer when you are on the field. Any theories as to why that may be?

A: No, there's no theory as to why that might be. It's a cool stat, I think. But I obviously wish that we would concede less and score more in general. And win more games.

It doesn’t matter to me if that stat is there or not. We just have to win more games.

Q: Can you provide an analogy of Bastian Schweinsteiger’s status in Germany to an American athlete in the U.S.?

A: That's hard. Maybe Kobe (Bryant). His one of the legends in Germany, especially in this era because he's won a World Cup. He's played unbelievably great. He's been a leader not just for Bayern but for the national team. He's just a tremendous player. I'm excited to play against. We have to take special care and be aware of what he does on the field because he can unlock you pretty quickly.

Q: Have you already asked (Gerardo) Martino if you can be on the field for the end of the game so you can try and get Schweinsteiger’s jersey?

A: I don't think I have to ask him for that. I'm going to try to talk to him and see what he says about the jersey.

Q: Ask him during the game?

A: No. Not during the game. He’s going to mind his business and I’m going to mind my business. But after the game, probably, yeah.

Q: Did you see (Greg) Garza (on his goal that Gressel assisted) or were you just trying to put the pass into space (against Vancouver)?

A: I saw Tito (Hector Villalba) and Garza and I just kind of hoped that one of those guys would make a run into space. I tried to put the ball exactly where it went.

Q: You could see you sized it up, you lined it up, and you one-timed to keep it low.

A: I saw both of them. We had talked about that we have to make those final runs, those sprints into the box until that finish pays off. I was hoping that one of the two would make the run and score a goal.