Following yesterday’s preseason competition in Chattanooga, Tenn., head coach Tata Martino expressed his feelings and impressions regarding his team’s first-ever match.
“We have the idea of always playing the same style regardless of the opponent, and I think today we were more focused on playing the way we want,” Martino said.
While NPSL side Chattanooga FC doesn’t directly translate to the MLS competition that Atlanta United will be confronted with this season, a game environment against a tenacious 11 is exactly what Atlanta’s squad needed for its preliminary appearance on the field.
From the first 10 minutes, it was clear Martino had designated a style for his team to emulate: build from the back, possess with purpose, and high press when on the other side of the ball.
As a first match together, it wasn’t necessarily always sharp, but the team as a whole showed a lot of promise and produced glimpses of brilliance.
“In reality we have the team we wanted to have, and furthermore we have the necessary variables to have a good season,” Martino said. “We hope to keep growing as a team.”
Overall, Martino was pleased with his squad’s efforts on the day, and in particular 16-year-old Homegrown Andrew Carleton, who made quite the impact in the second half, fearlessly taking on defenders, looking for penetrating passes, and even scoring the final goal of the match.
“He has enormous potential,” Martino said. “He’s young, learns fast, has a lot of quality, and the future depends on him.”
Carleton wasn’t the only youngster that caught Martino’s eye. First round MLS SuperDraft selections Miles Robinson and Julian Gressel proved comfortable and confident in Atlanta United’s second half group.
“They are players that don’t seem like recent draft picks,” he said. “They’re players that are going to have a lot of opportunities over the course of the season.”
With a 4-0 victory on the team’s debut and a clear purpose in style of play, Martino and his coaching staff can walk away from this first matchup content with the direction of their squad.
“For this first game, the level was good, but obviously we aspire to grow more for the start of the season,” Martino said.
Atlanta United’s next preseason opponent will be MLS side Columbus Crew on Saturday, Feb. 18 as their first matchup in the Carolina Challenge Cup hosted by the Atlanta’s USL affiliate, Charleston Battery, in Charleston, S.C.