Atlanta United 2022 México Preseason

After Guadalajara: The Work Continues


Trips like this one teach you a lot about your teammates. You learn who the coffee drinkers are (Matheus Rossetto, Alex De John, to name a few). You see who the outgoing players are (Alan Franco, who has a Jekyll-Hyde persona on vs. off camera). You see who the team leaders are (Brad Guzan) and get to know the new coaches.

Trips like this one teach you about the guys behind-the-scenes too. The guys on staff at the club you may not have gotten a chance to interact with on a daily basis. You learn their names, you share an elevator with them at the hotel, you sit next to them at breakfast.

With that, it becomes quite clear how many people it takes to make a trip like this one work. It’s like lifting the hood on a Mercedes-Benz C-class car. On the outside is the team: a fast, sleek, high-class product. Under the hood is an array of mechanisms and parts that make the car run.

Equipment managers like Chris Ottley and Sam Pastor who oversaw perhaps the largest collection of duffel bags I’ve ever seen. These bags contained equipment that went from the hotel to training each day (sometimes, making two trips on days with two sessions). And when it was time to go home, these bags took up an entire check-in line at the airport.

Security personnel like Pedro Hernández and Chaz Armand who were always with the team, on the periphery, working to make us feel comfortable. Julio, Eduardo, Phillip and additional outfitters from Mexico who added more to our everyday safety as we moved around Guadalajara.

Drivers who operated large buses and vans we called "sprinters" that took us to training and back to the team hotel. And guys who drove SUVs for the staff incoming and outgoing throughout the trip.

Player personnel manager Manny Garcia-Oronoz, who constantly checked on the players to help them find what they need and went to the airport to pick up Thiago Almada late when he joined the club.

Finally, most of all, our team administrator, Manny Tejada. This man worked tirelessly around the clock to make sure every aspect of the trip ran smoothly. He put in so much effort to make all the preparations for the trip, handling paperwork and making reservations. He had a folder for each person on the trip, keeping our paperwork all in one place, supplied the schedule each day, coordinated facilities for the friendlies, managed the operations staff... the list goes on.

(For this reason, I hope Tejada has gotten plenty of sound sleep since we got home Monday morning.)

There are many more I didn’t name, but each person involved on the operations side was valuable to making this trip a success.

What some people may not know is that the staff was fully integrated into preseason camp. We were included in most of the team events like going out to dinner. We were able to watch practice and have access to players and coaches for content. When the plan was to play paintball, we were included in that as well. We had a table at Club Atlas Chapalita for the barbecue so we got to enjoy some delicious chorizo and ribeye steak as well.

We were given access, and we were always considered part of the club.

It reminded me of the day that Gonzalo Pineda arrived to Atlanta United. When we got to sit in the studio and interview him, he told us on day one he wanted Atlanta United to be like a family. He wanted everyone to be included – from the supporters, to the community, to the staff – because that’s what’s going to allow us to be successful: being successful together. And that's what we saw in his first preseason trip.

As we wrap up the trip and head into the last week of preseason, here's a huge thank you to everyone who made the Mexico trip a success -- and for those who followed along and supported us from Atlanta.

Now, we get to bring that back home and continue the work.

Atlanta is scheduled to open its 2022 MLS Regular Season on Sunday, Feb. 27 against Sporting Kansas City at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Tickets for the Home Opener are now available.

Summer of Soccer

Summer of Soccer

Follow the 5-Stripes competing in this summer's global tournaments and find watch parties in your area.

Leagues Cup

Leagues Cup

All of the clubs from MLS and Liga MX will compete in a completely reimagined Leagues Cup: an annual, month-long tournament that runs from July 26-August 25, 2024.