It’s been a quiet week for Atlanta United without any matches and going into the September FIFA international window. Players from around the league, including four from Atlanta United, have been called up to compete for their countries in World Cup Qualifying matches. Nevertheless, Atlanta continued to prepare for its next match against Orlando, holding training sessions on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Here are a few more key notes on practice this week.
Recovering From Heavy Load
Head coach Gonzalo Pineda said he wanted to use the week to keep players fresh. During Wednesday’s practice, the players went through warm-ups and drills, then competed in games similar to soccer-tennis with small teams sending the ball back-and-forth over a shoulder-high net.
Pineda also said he wanted to make this week about reflection and recovery, noting the value of “mental freshness” in MLS. The team is coming off four games in 13 days. Prior to the Nashville match, the club played Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday, a schedule that Pineda referred to as a heavy load.
“It’s just really long for the players,” Pineda said. “They have no recovery at all and they go through that and they won a few games. So, I want to give them a little bit of a break, a mental reflection on things where we can do better, and they will come back.”
Away from practice this week were the four Atlanta players called up to play for their international squads: Josef Martínez (Venezuela), Ronald Hernández (Venezuela), Miles Robinson (United States) and George Bello (United States).
“Happy for the four players we have on the international team,” Pineda said. “That’s always good for the club, good for the players, good for the team. And we are happy for them, more than anything.”
Both Venezuela and the U.S. national teams played Thursday night. In Venezuela’s 3-1 loss to Argentina, Martínez started the match and played 67 minutes while Hernández came on in the second half as a sub. For the USMNT, Robinson started and played a full 90 minutes in the 0-0 draw to El Salvador.
With Venezuela facing Paraguay on September 9, it’s uncertain at this point whether the traveling schedule will allow Martínez and Hernández to see minutes against Orlando when they return. It’ll depend on how many minutes they play for Venezuela, Pineda said. And Atlanta will move forward and plan accordingly.
“We will train hard,” Pineda said on Saturday after the match against Nashville. “We will continue the process of making this franchise a successful one and we’ll focus on the next few games.”