After being inked in July by Atlanta United, and spending the last 6 months on loan at Coventry City in England, Chris McCann is eager to help kick off the MLS expansion club’s inaugural season.
At 28-years-old with long spells at well-established English clubs Burnley and Wigan, the Irish midfielder brings a wealth of professional experience to Atlanta.
It’s a brand new club enduring its first-ever preseason, highlighted by a world-class training staff, an international mix of players, and no shortage of young talent. So far, McCann has been impressed with the caliber, the atmosphere and the camaraderie in his newfound situation.
See what McCann had to say about his early experience with Atlanta United:
New team, new coach, new club, how’s the first week been?
"It’s been really enjoyable. I think it was the case of everyone getting to know each other. It was always going to be that way. Normally when you’re in the U.K., here in the U.S. or anywhere else for that matter, when you join a new team, you feel like the new kid in school. But today, we’ve got like 30 or 40 new kids going to school. So we all have to get to know each other, which as you can see on the training ground, everyone seems to be getting along brilliantly and gelling really well."
"The sessions that the gaffer [Head Coach] has put on have been really enjoyable as well. As a first week, it’s a real positive and a good sign of things to come."
What’s impressed you most about this group of players in particular?
"Generally, just how easy going they are. They’re a nice bunch of people. Normally in a team you get one or two odd characters, but all the guys have been first class from the younger ones to the older. The older guys have led by example and done things properly and that works down throughout the group, it stems from them so you see the young guys doing all the right things as well. From a new club it’s what you want to see and it breeds a good mantra throughout the whole club from top to bottom."
It’s a fairly young squad, do you feel the responsibility to step into that leadership role?
"With the age as well, as you start getting a little bit older there’s not that many older heads. Probably only four or five key experienced players that the younger guys are going to start looking up to, when things are getting tough when they’re playing throughout the season. The older guys are going go to ultimately be the ones who they turn to for advice, for a little help, for the support."
"I think as an older pro here [in myself], and Jeff, Park, I think you’ve got good role models for the young guys to look up to. And if they take half of what we’ve done they’re in for a good career here because that manager that we have right now, he’s one of the best in the world."
"If I could give them one piece of advice, it’d be don’t just waste your time and let it slip by, really take in what you’ve got because we never had facilities like this when we were young playing, and we never had a manager like this guy in charge. So you have to take it all in, use it to your advantage and try becoming a better player."
"The stadium, the training ground, it’s going to be something special. players like me coming from a small town never had facilities like that, so if I could rewind my career back 10 years and have facilities like that, I’d be making the most of it every day. That’s what the young guys should be doing. They should be looking forward to playing in a world-class facility week in and week out and trying to prove themselves on the biggest level."
Is there anything different about this preseason in particular?
"It’s not too different than any other. In the end, preseason is preseason. You come in here to work hard. As I said, facilities are first class, the guys have been excellent, and the sessions put on have been tough. I think we’ve covered 70-80 percent match minutes already in some of the sessions in high intensity. So it’s been a really enjoyable camp thus far and we’ve got another week to come which I’m sure he [Tata] is going to step it up again a bit more in the week coming. You’re here to work hard, to get fit, and that’s what we’re doing. "