Josh Cohen ready to make club debut in goal for Atlanta United 


Atlanta United is gearing up for a midweek match in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which meant Monday’s training session and media availability were away, but not too far, from their usual spot at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground as the team spent the morning a few exits up I-75 in Kennesaw.

The Open Cup match, falling on the schedule between two Saturday MLS home matches for Atlanta United, means a likely moment for players outside of the regular starters to see playing time, including Josh Cohen.

The plan, according to media availability on Monday, revealed Cohen is set to get time in goal Tuesday night. The goalkeeper, who signed with Atlanta United this offseason, would be making his debut with the first team.

“It’s different training versus games, so I’m really excited to get on the field with the guys,” Cohen said.

The 31-year-old is coming off two very strong appearances with Atlanta’s MLS NEXT Pro team, Atlanta United 2. Most recently, in the 2s victory over New York City FC, Cohen made five saves in regulation, including a terrific save on a free kick in the 39th minute. He added two more saves when he stopped the second and third shots to seal Atlanta’s 4-2 win in the penalty shootout.

Earning back-to-back clean sheets in MLS NEXT Pro has given the 6-foot-1 goalkeeper confidence heading into his first appearance with the first team.

“Don’t do too much,” Cohen said when asked about his focus for Tuesday. “Trust yourself and play like you know you have in the past, and the rest will take care of itself.

Josh Cohen makes the save for Atlanta United 2

Cohen has trained with the first team all year and has gotten help from an experienced goalkeeper room. The grouping of veterans Brad Guzan and Quentin Westberg, along with Liam Curran, who’s served as first team goalkeepers coach since 2020, has provided the youngest goalkeeper on the roster solid support.

“We have a really good group,” Cohen said. “It’s very collaborative. We talk out a lot of situations. With so much experience, everyone has tried different things and has little ideas like maybe we could do this, maybe we could do this. It’s been really positive.”

The opportunity for Cohen arrives as Atlanta United prepares to face an opponent from a lower division. Charlotte Independence, which Atlanta United hosts in the Round of 32 on Tuesday night, plays in USL League One.

It’s part of the Open Cup’s DNA to feature teams from a variety of American soccer leagues. MLS teams will only play lower division opponents until it can’t be avoided, enhancing the tournament's drama and appeal. Cohen, who has additional experience playing for USL sides and major soccer franchises overseas, knows what it’s like to be on either side of matchups like Tuesday’s in Kennesaw.

“You need to have some consistency with how you approach the game,” he said. “You can’t take it too lightly or too seriously, depending on what side you’re on… It’s a good opportunity for a lot of guys. Play the way you know how to play, trust that the reason you’re on the field is because the coaches trust you and they know you can do well, be successful and win the game.”

Following Cohen’s availability on Monday, Gonzalo Pineda also spoke to reporters, and the head coach shed some light on the goalkeeper’s approach and personality. Pineda reiterated that Cohen is very vocal, which is something Atlanta United supporters have seen (or heard) over the years with veteran Guzan.

Pineda also praised Cohen’s attention to detail and said that the goalkeeper is earning the respect of the team.

“I’m very pleased about his attitude,” Pineda said. “He’s been an unbelievable professional in these couple months that we’ve known each other. I’m actually very, very excited for his performance tomorrow.”

And when asked what he expects out of Cohen in the Open Cup match, Pineda put it simply:

“To be who he is, a great goalkeeper. He was outstanding the other night with the 2s. He’s also a vocal leader from the back. He’s a good goalkeeper, so I expect him to show that tomorrow.”

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