Following a newsy and eventful day on Thursday, Friday had a bit more of an easy pace to it. But there was one thing we saw that we hadn't seen yet during our four full days in Mexico.
That's right. After a week of sun, we had our first bit of cloud coverage. The weather this morning was a bit more reminiscent of back home in Atlanta. It was cloudy and cool, with a temperature in the high 40s by the time the team made it onto the pitch for training in the morning.
Coaches split the field players into two groups: blue and yellow. For warm-ups, the sides went through competitive games and races. Then, they moved onto rondos.
After that blue and yellow went up against each other in some cascaritas. The game was lively, with both teams playing loose and getting off several shots. Santiago Sosa scored from long distance, which prompted an exciting goal celebration. First team fullback Brooks Lennon and 2s player Luke Brennan found each other on a nice 1-2 that resulted in a goal. Franco Ibarra and Danny Sebhatu wore the keeper gloves for either side. Sebhatu made back-to-back saves for the yellow team at one point, showing off his quick reflexes.
After a long week, it was good to see the guys let loose and play a joyful game. Shots were taken, shots were saved and goals were celebrated (including a nice slide on the grass by Luiz Araújo). As coach said yesterday, these guys aren't robots. They're humans with feelings -- and it was enjoyable to see them have some fun and show out in a joyful, playful game.
On the other side of the pitch, we saw the four goalkeepers -- Brad Guzan, Quentin Westberg, Clément Diop and 2s goalkeeper Sebastián Guerra -- working with coach Liam Curran. The group had nearly half the field to themselves, so they were able to get some work with goal kicks and long passes.
Ozzie Alonso, who's making his way back from an ACL tear he sustained last season, also got in an on-the-field workout. He and fitness coach Jack Kimber ran some laps, then the two worked together on some passing. Kimber encouraged Alonso to make a good touch and a good pass from a short distance, helping Alonso continue to grow confident in his movements.
Finally, to wrap up players practiced PKs. During the last friendly against Chattanooga FC, Araújo was the one who delivered a PK. On Friday, he proved once again to be among the best on the team, nailing PK after PK.
The players went to the hotel for lunch, then had the afternoon off. After dinner, there was another team-bonding activity, that involved even members of the staff, that we'll keep close to the vest (for now).
Match preview: Atlante FC vs. Atlanta United
Tomorrow is matchday! Atlanta United takes on Atlante FC for the first of two preseason friendlies in México. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. in Atlanta).
Here's what else you need to know about the matchup:
Who is Atlante FC?
Atlante Fútbol Club is a professional football club based in Mexico City. The club competes in Liga de Expansión MX, a second-tier league in Mexico that was founded in 2020. The league includes Celaya FC, a club that Atlanta United beat 2-1 last preseason.
The Iron Colts are the current champions of Liga de Expansión MX. They won the league title twice (2021, 2022), the only club to do so. Atlante also won the 2022 Campeón de Campeones de la Liga de Expansión, an annual Mexican football competition.
Atlanta United meets Atlante while Liga de Expansión MX is in-season. In the standings, Atlante currently ranks in eighth place out of 18 clubs. The team has won two of their last five matches.
Where is the match?
The friendly will be played at Atlante FC's home stadium, Estadio Ciudad de los Deportes in Mexico City.
How can I watch and follow the match?
For supporters back home in Atlanta, Atlante FC will be streaming the match. Atlante FC is also selling tickets to the match, so any local soccer fans can attend the match in-person. Click here to view tickets.