Atlanta United’s first preseason game featured flashes of the Five Stripes’ potential this season. But Leandro González Pirez isn’t close to satisfied yet.
“In general we had a good game,” he told reporters Wednesday, through a translator. “We have to be more consistent and we have to be able to maintain the form and style we want to play for longer periods of time. We need to extend the good moments we had and play them for longer periods.”
For Josef Martinez, who scored the first goal of Atlanta’s preseason, it was clear to see the quality that’s been added to the team in the offseason. But he said it was important to stay patient.
“They have good moments, because they’re really good players,” he said. “We just have to give them time. We need more time to get them into the system and how we played last season. But obviously those are really important pieces for our team.”
“Obviously they have to adapt to Tata’s system, which is a personal system of Tata’s and not a lot of teams play that style,” Pirez added. “So those guys have to get adjusted to how we want to play, that will be the biggest thing for them."
While Pirez was complimentary of all his new teammates, he singled out the new midfield engine for praise.
“Darlington is a really good player with really good technique. For us, it’s easy because when we have problems we give the ball to him and he solves them. We’ve only had four or five trainings with him. He’s a new guy, he has to get the ideas, but he’s a good player and hard worker.”
But now the team has their focus fully forward as they look to build on the glimpses of magic we saw in match number one.
“All the games at this point are important, that’s what preseason is for: work on the things we’re doing in training. So we just have to train hard, whether we have games or whether we don’t have games, we just have to keep working on our game.”
The team moves on to the second stage of preseason this weekend, facing off against MLS competition in the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, South Carolina. They begin their season on the road against Houston before returning to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for their home debut against D.C. United. Tickets are still available for that match –– make sure you’ve secured yours here.