Atlanta United midfielder Eric Remedi works against C.S. Herediano in their CONCACAF Champions League soccer match on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Kennesaw.
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Three of five international spots set in Atlanta United’s U.S. Open Cup match

There will be lineup changes for Atlanta United in its match against the Charleston Battery in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday. 

The tournament limits rosters to five international players. Atlanta United manager Frank De Boer noted with a mix of injuries and players competing for their national teams, it made it rather easy to decide how to fill those spots. 

De Boer announced that goalkeeper Brad Guzan, midfielder Julian Gressel and defender Leandro Gonzalez-Pirez will not make the trip to South Carolina. 

While de Boer didn’t give all five names as to who would fill those international spots, he mentioned three in midfielders Dion Pereira and Eric Remedi and defender Franco Escobar.

“We take it very seriously,” de Boer said. “We had a couple of days off, and everybody has to be fit to play this game. We played a lot of games and to stay in that rhythm is very good. … So I’m not going to change that much.”

He mentioned that there are opportunities for players who don’t play quite as much to get time in the U.S. Open Cup, although he wants to be careful. His philosophy is that you can’t give other players much of an opportunity when you play the whole team. He wants to limit the amount of change as much as possible by allowing for a few (three to four) players to get some chances.

Michael Parkhurst, a defender and team captain, understands the priority the club has put on the U.S. Open Cup. Winning the tournament means qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League. With a team like Atlanta United who is hoping to grow internationally, the players are approaching the game like any other in preparation, with the same routines such as watching film and working on set pieces. 

For Parkhurst, however, it helps the team doesn’t have to balance other games on the schedule with competing in the tournament. The team returned from the international break and had three days of what Parkhurst thought was good training. 

“We know that we haven’t progressed past two games through this tournament yet, and we want to,” Parkhurst said. “We talked about it as the quickest way to a trophy.”

The five-day break was good for the team. Despite winning six of their last eight games prior, Parkhurst said it was a grind and players were tired. 

Playing in different environments, specifically smaller ones like the one they’ll see in Charleston, is not new to the club. Atlanta United lost 3-1 to CS Herediano in the CONCACAF Champions League in Costa Rica. Parkhurst admitted the team went into the game naive, potentially expecting to win. He noted the experience made the players aware they need to be ready for any experience or environment. 

“Unlike that tournament this is one and done, if you have a poor 90 minutes, that’s it you’re out, so we want to make sure that doesn’t occur,” Parkhurst said. 

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