The summer transfer window closed Wednesday, Aug 2. Atlanta United was active during the window, signing four new players to the roster.
One of the additions was Tristan Muyumba, the 26-year-old midfielder from France who signed with Atlanta United at the opening of the window. Unlike the other signings, who were announced after the club’s final match in Leagues Cup, Atlanta United supporters got a taste of what Muyumba can do on the pitch wearing the 5-Stripes. The Parisian made his first appearance for the club in the Leagues Cup group stage match against Cruz Azul on July 29. In his first appearance, he also made head coach Gonzalo Pineda’s starting XI.
“You always watch film on signings, and you’re excited about that and what he can be, but you never know until you see him live, right? There were good moments in training sessions. And today, you saw what he can bring,” Pineda said during his post-match press conference.
During the match, Muyumba’s skills were on display. He showed a strong connection with his new teammates, completing 54 passes, second-most on the team. In the 51st minute, the midfielder located starting striker Giorgos Giakoumakis making a diagonal run in Atlanta’s attacking third. Muyumba expertly threaded a long pass for Atlanta’s “Tank” to run onto and get on the end for a 1v1 situation deep in Atlanta's attacking third.
“I thought he was really good, especially combining with Thiago [Almada], with Amar [Sejdić], with GG [Giorgos Giakoumakis],” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “Little combination plays in and around the center of the field. And his ability to elude a defensive player, not even by touching the ball, just his body shape, his transferring of his weight to go from one side to the other.”
Muyumba was also efficient on the ball, completing three successful dribbles on the night which tied Almada for most on the team. In the third minute, the 5-foot-5 midfielder used beautiful footwork to take on two Cruz Azul defenders in a crowded box, then laid off a pass into a dangerous area inside the 6-yard box which forced Cruz Azul to clear it away.
“He’s a physical guy, a guy that changes the pace, that plays simple but also can dribble past people. His decision-making is very good. He’s clever and also can unbalance the backline with some runs inside the box,” Pineda said.
Muyumba, who transferred from EA Guingamp in the French Ligue 2, was very active throughout the night for Atlanta United. He took the second touch of the match, receiving the opening pass from Matheus Rossetto who took the kickoff and sent it back to him at the edge of the circle. Muyumba finished third on the team in most touches with 77 behind only Almada and Rossetto, and he finished the match with a passing accuracy of 87 percent.
“He’s a pleasure to play alongside,” Sejdić said. “You can tell that he’s been brought up through European influence. He sees the game very well. His awareness on the field, he knows where his teammates are and knows where the opposition is. He likes to connect small passes and he’s a fun guy to play with.”
Atlanta’s new midfielder went on to play a full 90 minutes in his club debut. And he answered the call in a big moment. After Atlanta United and Cruz Azul were tied at the end of regulation, the winner was determined by a penalty kick shootout. Muyumba took the second kick for Atlanta United, knocking it home with a firm, right-footed strike, showing supreme poise in a high stakes situation. To celebrate, Muyumba made an exuberant fist pump and wave to the crowd on hand at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, introducing himself to Atlanta United supporters in a positive way.
The home side eventually lost to Cruz Azul 5-4 in penalty kicks, which eliminated the 5-Stripes from Leagues Cup competition. While there was a sense of disappointment following the club’s group stage exit from the tournament, Muyumba’s strong performance was a silver lining. His positive debut showed a glimpse of what the final 10 regular season matches might bring once he, and all the new acquisitions, are more integrated with the team.
“He’s still not 100 percent fit,” Pineda said. “Looking forward to his development and his integration to the team and him fully fit. I think he's going to be a great signing for us.”
“He’s going to be a big player for us going forward,” Guzan echoed.