Atlanta United have announced that left back Greg Garza has been signed on a permanent deal. The American left back, who was voted to represent MLS against Real Madrid in the MLS All-Star Game in 2017, spent the year in red, black and gold on loan from Liga MX side Tijuana. But the fan favorite will be returning in the 5-Stripes next season. He sat down with us to give us his reaction to the news.
Q: What is your initial reaction to officially being an Atlanta United player on a permanent basis?
For me, it's something I and my family always wanted. I’m glad everything’s been able to work itself out these past few weeks to get everything figured out with both sides in Tijuana and Atlanta. Luckily everything worked out and we’re very fortunate to call Atlanta our new home.
Q: What are the positives for you and your family of having a permanent contract as opposed to a loan contract?
Just knowing that we’re able to stay in Atlanta another few years is a big plus for my family and myself. My kid is in school right now, my wife is very comfortable here in Atlanta, so that’s big for us. I think the most important thing for a player is having his family as happy as they can be. I’m glad that my family is really happy here in Atlanta.
Q: As a player, what made you realize you wanted to stay beyond your initial loan?
I think for me, one of the main things that blew me out of the water from the very beginning was the fan base within Atlanta. I think we had an awesome first year, we set the bar pretty high for ourselves for this next year, but hopefully we can give the people what they want to see as we did this first year. I feel very comfortable here, and I think the team was an awesome addition to the city. Having them back us up, the whole entire team, was something that blew me out of the water from the very beginning.
Q: What are you most looking forward to next year?
Hopefully we can bring a championship home next year. I know that’s something that everybody wanted for this year, but I think we have the tools to do it, we have the players to do it, and hopefully we can get even farther. For me it was tough to miss the last couple games being injured. I played the whole season but missed the most important match, so that was very tough for me. So, on a personal note, hopefully I can stay healthy the entire year and help the team as much as possible like I did in the beginning and middle of last year.
Q: What’s your message to the fans heading into the new season?
It was pretty special for me to feel the support that I felt in Atlanta. I think that’s a big plus for me as well to stay and know that I had that special connection with the fan base in the stadium. Seeing all the Garza jerseys, and knowing it was one of the top-selling jerseys in the league, that’s a big plus and a huge honor for me. To go through what I’ve been through the last few years going through some major injuries and to have really a breakout season with Atlanta last year… I was very honored for myself, but I’m also happy that the fans backed me up. Hopefully they will continue to back me up and hopefully we’ll see some more Garza jerseys around the stadium this year.