Perhaps the most important things said about Eric Remedi were spoken before Tuesday’s press conference to introduce the newest member of Atlanta United.
Captain Michael Parkhurst said that Remedi didn’t look as if “he was the new guy out there” on the training ground. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez said “He’s a good guy. He has good intentions.”
Atlanta United’s formula for finding players has always revolved around two central questions: how will they fit in the locker room and how will they fit on the field.
So far, so good. Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra seemed confident that Remedi, a 23-year-old defensive midfielder from Argentina, is going to help the club achieve its lofty aspirations sooner rather than later.
“Pleased to bring another reinforcement into the group to make a push for playoffs,” Bocanegra said at a press conference at Atlanta United’s training center in Marietta after teammates spoke. “We know our best soccer is still ahead of us. Looking for him to come in and compete right away.”
Supporters got a glimpse of Remedi on Sunday when he walked into the stadium with his teammates before the game against Seattle. They may get a chance to see him on field on Saturday when the Five Stripes, which lead MLS with 41 points, host D.C. United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Remedi said he is going to try to help the team in the middle of the field. He said his job is to recover the ball, get it to the attacking players and let them do what they do.
Bocanegra described Remedi as a hunter. He’s short, thick with muscles and his beard and tattoos of what appeared to be a lion and the numbers 29 and 5 on his left arm give him a tough vibe. He brings the experience of more than 50 first-team starts with Banfield in Argentina’s top division, so he’s not wide-eyed and reckless, either.
But that image doesn’t hold up, at least in interactions with fans when he was greeted at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport last week or with the media on Tuesday.
Remedi said that Bocanegra told him during a meeting in Buenos Aires how enthusiastic the team’s supporters were, so he described the small party of fans at the airport “beautiful.” Photos and a video with a smiling Remedi were posted on social media.
Remedi laughed several times during Tuesday’s press conference and his enthusiasm about upending his life with a new country, language, culture, league, club and teammates was obvious in his tone, the length of his answers and his smile, which may rival teammate Miguel Almiron’s for its wattage.
He said MLS is developing a stronger reputation in Argentina. He cited several players like Portland’s Diego Valeri and NYCFC’s Maxi Moralez as reasons why he started to pay more attention to soccer in North America.
“This is a league that Argentines want to come to,” he said.
He cited teammates such as Gonzalez Pirez, Hector Villalba, Ezequiel Barco, Franco Escobar and, of course, manager Gerardo Martino as reasons why he started to pay attention to Atlanta United.
“When this opportunity arose, I didn’t hesitate,” he said.
Remedi described play in MLS as more direct than in Argentina, and Atlanta United’s training ground as a “10 out of 10.”
“Everything you need is here,” he said. “Uncommon to see facilities like this in Argentina.”
The team had been looking for a holding midfielder since it sold Carlos Carmona in January, but Bocanegra said they didn’t want to add a player just to add one.
The team found Remedi in the spring through scouting, and then began to do due diligence. Bocanegra said that for every position on the field the team has a profile with specific qualities they are looking for. They liked how Remedi reads the game, how he positions himself and his experience of playing in big games during the Copa Libertadores tournament. They liked how he rarely stopped moving, which is important within Atlanta United’s pressing style.
And, after meeting with him in Buenos Aires, they liked his personality and how they thought he would fit within the team.
Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said last week that the toughest thing to do when joining a new team is to figure out how a new player’s personality fits within the locker room.
So far, on and off the field, Remedi seems to be exactly what Atlanta United wanted and needs.
“He will be good on this team,” Gonzalez Pirez said.