Alec Kann’s first professional season playing for his hometown of Atlanta had some incredible highs, locking down a starting spot and earning the love of the crowd to nearly clinch a spot in the MLS All-Star Game. But with that high came a devastating low, when a lingering muscle injury kept him out of the roster nearly the entire second half of the year.
“That was frustrating,” he admits, “but I learned my lesson to not rush back, be patient and to listen to my body. It’s obviously tough mentally, but you just have to believe in yourself, trust your body and know that eventually you’ll be back doing what you love.”
But Kann didn't let physical barriers stunt his development as a player. His leg may have been hurt, but his mind was still working overtime trying to perfect his craft.
“I had plenty of time to reflect on the first half of the season, things I liked that I did and things I wish I could have done a little better. And also take the opportunity to watch Brad [Guzan] who came in and did a wonderful job for us and learn from him and his experience and try to add some things to my game for when I eventually get back to first-team minutes.”
As an Atlanta native himself, the inaugural season is one that he’ll never forget – but he insists it’s only the beginning. With new additions bolstering the ranks, he says the competition will only make the team stronger.
“Mitch [Hildebrandt] has raised the level of the goalkeeping group. He works hard, he’s got good technique, he’s a great addition to the group and he just brings the level up for everyone. Paul [Christensen] has been out with the team all week. Same thing: great attitude, wants to work hard and learn. Me, Brad and Mitch have been around for a little while and we can help take him under our wing and kind of show him what’s expected at this level.”
With the addition of ATL UTD 2, the club’s new USL team, there are more opportunities than ever to get time on the field. Kann says he’s ready to contribute in whatever way the team needs.
“We’ll find out more as the preseason goes on, but for now just do whatever I can to help the team win, push Brad and Mitch and see where the chips fall. I want to play games. Whatever level that’s at, I’m happy to do it.”
Whichever team he suits up for on matchday, the entire goalkeeping platoon is vital to push each other to be as good as they can be for the first-team. And Kann takes that role seriously as the team pushes to improve on their unforgettable debut year.
“We had a good season last year, but we still have a bit of a bad taste in our mouth the way things ended and felt like we left a little bit on the table. And we will keep that bit between our teeth throughout this season.”
Atlanta United will look to get their season off to a winning start on the road against the Houston Dynamo on March 3rd. They’ll make their home debut the following week against DC United –– click here to buy tickets and make sure you’re there to cheer on the Five Stripes.