TRAINING-NOTEBOOK-9.8.22

As Atlanta United fans might expect, training on Thursday morning drew a crowd. There were no parking spaces available in the lot at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground. Cameras and reporters lined the walkway overlooking the field.

The reason for the media deluge was clear. On Wednesday, the club announced that striker Josef Martínez has been suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.

Following Thursday’s training, Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda, midfielder Thiago Almada and defender Andrew Gutman met with the media. Here’s what they had to say along with some insights and observations from the Training Ground:

Addressing Josef Martínez’s Suspension

Pineda addressed the matter on Thursday in a thorough availability with media. The Atlanta United head coach explained that the decision to suspend Martínez was the club’s. Pineda also shared he was the one to break the news to Martínez personally over the phone.

The suspension will last one week, which means that the striker will miss the team’s next match on Saturday against Toronto FC. However, it’s Pineda’s expectation that Martínez will return and be welcomed back to the team on Monday.

Pineda has always had a good relationship with the striker, taking precaution with Martínez’s playing time not to overload him and having regular conversations. The head coach stressed that has not changed.

“The good sides of Josef are massive,” Pineda said. “He’s a good person, no doubt about it. I think he has a great heart. But as anyone else, we all make mistakes.”

The fallout from the loss against Portland is about more than one player. It’s about building a culture that embodies humility, teamwork and commitment. These are the values that Pineda wants the entire club to uphold, starting with the young players in the Academy all the way up to the face of the franchise.

“I was in the Academy the other day and we were telling the kids values that we like: humility, teamwork and commitment,” Pineda added. “If I value more the goals than the culture, what is the message to those kids that we all spoke in front of them? I don’t know.”

Matheus Rossetto Returns

There was a positive sight on the training pitch. Thursday marked the return of Matheus Rossetto, the midfielder from Brazil who’s been week-to-week with an ankle injury he sustained in the club’s 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders.

Prior to the injury, Rossetto was one of the key players in the midfield for Pineda. He started 18 matches and made 20 appearances for Atlanta United this season. On July 30 in Atlanta’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake, Rossetto recorded his first career assist for the club. Rossetto back in the mix adds another option for Pineda to pair in the midfield with Santiago Sosa.

Thiago Almada Called Up For Argentina

Over the weekend, one of Atlanta United’s talented stars received some exciting news. On September 4, the Argentina men’s national team announced its preliminary list of call ups for the upcoming FIFA international window. Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada was on the list.

The midfielder has previous experience playing for his country. He’s made seven appearances for the U-20 squad and three appearances for the U-23s. He also represented Argentina at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. This time around, he learned the news during Atlanta United’s road trip to Portland. One of the directors for the Argentina men’s national team sent Almada a text message letting him know, then Almada and the club received the official email.

The attacking midfielder joins a list that includes prosperous international stars. In the announcement, Almada’s name fit right in between Angel Di María (Juventus) and Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain). Seeing his name amongst some of the best in the world was a big moment for the 21-year-old.

“It’s a huge honor for me and my family to get called up to the national team,” Almada said. “It’s every kid’s dream to get to represent their country, so I’m very excited about it. Right now, my mind is focused on the next couple games against Orlando and Philadelphia. Then after that, my mentality will shift to the national team.”