Between preparing for the anticipated matchup between Atlanta United and Seattle Sounders, the arrival of new signee Edwin Mosquera and watching an era end with the departure of president Darren Eales, it’s been a busy week around the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground in Marietta, Ga.
But there’s always time to take a beat and enjoy some soccer.
After training on Thursday, some players stayed behind to participate in a competitive soccer table tennis, bringing out the table to play on the field right outside the entrance to the locker room. The guys broke off into two-person teams, taking no more than three touches between them before sending the ball over the net.
The Brazilians, Matheus Rossetto and Luiz Araújo, teamed up to take on Alex De John and Ronald Hernández. Assistant coach Diego de la Torre got in on the action, trying to squeeze a stealthy shot past Araújo in the corner.
With so much to cover, let’s dive right into the main storylines from the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground this week:
Brooks Lennon Returns, Adding To Defensive Reinforcements
Brooks Lennon returned to training on Thursday. Lennon has missed the last several weeks due to a knee injury.
Lennon joins Ronald Hernández and Andrew Gutman as defenders who are making their way back. Hernández returned to training earlier this week. He was expected to miss 3-4 months due to an MCL injury.
Gutman returned to training on July 20. He was out several weeks due to a quadriceps tendon injury. The defender played minutes in the scoreless draw with Chicago Fire, entering as a substitute in the second half.
“The quality of the sessions raised just naturally with Andrew, Ronald, Brooks and Edwin,” Pineda said. “The quality of the training sessions have been very good this week. So, we just need to prepare ourselves for winning.”
Gonzalo Pineda vs. Brian Schmetzer
When the 2022 schedule dropped back in January, Atlanta United’s meeting with Seattle Sounders on August 6 was certainly one that was circled as a premier matchup.
It’s been a long-awaited reunion for Pineda and his former club. Before becoming Atlanta United’s head coach last August, Pineda spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Seattle. He also made 56 appearances as a player with the Sounders and was part of the roster when Seattle won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield in 2014.
Pineda often refers to Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer as his most influential mentor. He considers Schmetzer a great friend and admires the success he’s brought to Seattle, which includes four MLS Cup Final appearances in five seasons and two MLS Cup titles.
“In my opinion, he’s the best coach in MLS,” Pineda said. “Maybe I have some bias, but I’ve seen him achieving more than anyone else in his time in MLS. I can see, working directly with him, why he’s successful. So, he deserves all the credits, in my opinion. But also he’s a great friend for me and a great mentor, so I’m going to be very happy to see him again.”
Edwin Mosquera Has Arrived
One addition to Atlanta United during the transfer window was Edwin Mosquera. The club announced he signed a four-year contract with Atlanta United on July 12, becoming the first player ever from Colombia to sign with the club.
Mosquera has gotten acclimated to his new club this week. He arrived at the Training Ground on Tuesday, started training with the team on Wednesday and spoke to the media for the first time on Thursday. He describes himself as a versatile and fast player who likes to dribble and take players on 1v1 and set up for his teammates.
“I’m here to contribute to the team,” Mosquera said. “So, I’m willing to do whatever is needed of me to try and help the team, and hopefully we can make the playoffs.”
He’s also been watching film to get up to speed on how his new team likes to play. Mosquera understands where the team is currently, alluding to the team’s ability to create chances but can improve on the final touch.
“I’ve been getting to know my teammates in these two training sessions that I’ve had so far, and I think the chemistry is improving,” he said. “But as they say in soccer, there’s no language in soccer. So, I think that’ll continue to grow.”
Mosquera asked to wear no. 70 for a player he likes to model himself after, Robinho, but the numbers don’t go up that high. The 21-year-old will wear no. 21 for Atlanta United.
The Transfer Window
The secondary transfer window officially closes today. Atlanta United, as far as Pineda knows, won’t be making any more moves on the final day.
Use our transfer tracker page to get caught up and learn more about the new faces at Atlanta United.
Saying Farewell To Darren Eales
The match against Seattle Sounders on Saturday will mark Darren Eales’s last with the club. Eales has been the president of Atlanta United since the club’s inception in 2014. During his tenure, he won the Doug Hamilton MLS Executive of the Year twice and guided the club to one of the most successful inaugural seasons in MLS history.
Eales departs Atlanta to return to his home country of England and work for Newcastle United FC, a club in the English Premier League where former 5-Stripe Miguel Almirón currently plays. In a generous farewell to media on Thursday, Eales rolled out a case of Newcastle Brown Ale and gifted each reporter with some to take home.
Join us on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium as we send off Eales when Atlanta United takes on the Seattle Sounders. It’s a full-venue match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, so act fast and secure your seat today!