3 keys for Atlanta United in Chattanooga

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Tito Villalba in Atlanta United training this week (Credit: @ATLUTD)

After what has seemed like an interminable build-up, Atlanta United takes the field tomorrow for the first time in club history. The preseason opener in Chattanooga should not be judged by the scoreline, but the experience. With loads of substitutions and neither team in mid-season form, little can be taken from the final score.

 

However, here are a few things to look for as you watch at Finley Stadium or on Chattanooga FC’s website. These will be important as Atlanta United prepares for its first MLS season.

  • Individual performances of players on the bubble:  While we have all shared posts about potential Atlanta United lineups, there are some players who will be battling for playing time on Saturday. This game against Chattanooga is very important for them to push their way into the pecking order. Kevin Kratz, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu and Harrison Heath are two central midfielders who could get lost in the shuffle after the Carlos Carmona acquisition. No one is quite sure what to expect from Julian Gressel and where he will fit into the squad, Saturday can start the process of figuring that out.
  • Young players stepping up:  In addition to the players mentioned above, Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin will need to demonstrate that they can contribute as professionals at 16-years-old. It is unknown if any of the academy players who have participated in first team training will see action tomorrow, but they also have an opportunity to show they are ready. Tata Martino is highly unlikely to keep a player on the bench if they show they can contribute.
  • Tactical elements on display:  It would be wrong to expect a deep tactical plan on Saturday out of Atlanta United. They have focused on fitness as much as tactics so far in their preseason training and the squad is still coming together. The tactics will come as the season goes on, but we should see some hints of it Saturday. Will it be the high pressing style Martino used at Newell’s Old Boys to lead them to success in Argentina? Will it be the more defensive, counterattacking style he used with the Paraguayan national team? Honestly, it could be some of both as this team figures out what will serve it best to both develop a tactical personality while earning points in league play.
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