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Yamil Asad and Chris McCann on Atlanta United’s win and next steps

After an impressive victory, there is still work do be done

Dave Williamson Photography

After scoring a tremendous golazo that shook Finley Stadium as it found its way into the upper 90 on Saturday, Yamil Asad talked about the goal and his hopes for the season. Speaking at the team’s temporary home from the Atlanta Falcons’ training facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia, Asad provided details about the goal, the opportunity he has with United, and the support from fans in Atlanta and Argentina.

Obviously the goal was amazing, but the build up to it included a lot of ball movement and quick passes that led to the shot. Asad went into some of the tactics that the team was executing on the play and commented that “Something that coach Martino asked is when the wingers cut in, to pass outside to the outside backs, and luckily they were able to do it. Kenwyne and Chris made a great play and it ended in a goal.”

After scoring a goal like that, it may be surprising that Asad left Velez Sarsfield after struggling for playing time in 2016. With a talented midfield and forward line including Tito Villalba, Miguel Almiron, and Josef Martinez, the young Argentine has an opportunity to make a name for himself in a new league but will face competition for playing time. His loan deal is with an option to buy and the midfielder recognizes the opportunity he has, saying “it’s a new team, with big aspirations, there’s still a lot of room for growth.”

When it was announced that Asad would be moving to Atlanta on loan this season, fans of his team in Argentina didn’t exactly seem heartbroken to see him go. Asad took their reaction in stride saying that “The fans in Argentina are a little crazy. The league is in a little bit of a bad spot with administration problems, but the fans there are as passionate as they are anywhere.”

The young midfielder’s goal obviously left a big impression on Atlanta United fans, but he has been impressed by the support that he saw on Saturday. Commenting about the turnout for the match he said “In truth, I was surprised by the number of fans, especially for a friendly. The truth is I’m really appreciative, they sent me a lot of messages and I really appreciate it”

His teammate Chris McCann also spoke about how Atlanta dominated possession and how that will be a tactical cornerstone for the season. McCann said that “It is a big way of how we are going to play this season. Looking at the coach and the teams hes coached before, and the national sides, all the sides play the same style of football. It’s all high press, high tempo, and when we win it back try to win it back as high as we can so we’re nearer to the goal and then have an opportunity on goal.”

Despite winning 4-0 and largely controlling the game, it took Atlanta United ten minutes to settle into the game. Early on, Chattanooga FC had a chance on goal when an attacker got past the defenders forcing Alec Kann out of goal for a clearance. McCann commented about the opening minutes saying, “I think that’s what it is, a settling in period, it’s like a teething issue. You are going to get that with a new side when new players come together, it take a few weeks for you to find that pattern of play that each person is comfortable with and to get to know your teammates style of play as well.”

He also said that the pre-season is a time to resolve these issues ahead of the opening of the season on March 5th commenting that, “I think that’s a big thing, and you know there’s going to be a breakdown of communication here or there but that’s why we play the pre-season friendlies to make sure we don’t have any of these issues when it comes down to playing the big MLS games.”

Obviously Atlanta United has built a team with players from the US, Europe, and South America and while that is a challenge, McCann said the team is facing it in practice noting that “Basically the work we’re doing everyday on the training field, I think that’s the biggest thing you can do to combat the factor of the language barrier. Everybody speaks the language of football, when you go out on the pitch and the manager sets the tasks and the drills out. Everybody knows their roles and responsibilities on the pitch and you have to take that onto the field with you.”

While breakdowns may be unavoidable, the work in training is addressing them, the Irish midfielder noted that “There’s bound to be a couple of breakdowns of communication here or there, but we’re all professionals and we’re all going to do a good job. And that’s why we’re here in Flowery Branch to get to know each other and take that into the game”

While Chattanooga FC is a lower division team, Atlanta will face higher level opponents from MLS and the USL in Charleston this weekend. In order to prepare, McCann noted that the team is looking at what it did well this past weekend saying, “I think we’ve got to look at that game, the positives are a big thing that you can take away from it. How well we attacked and counter attacked, how well we defended in spells, but basically just the positivity that we had going forward with the threat that we carry with the forward players with Josef, Tito, and Miguel.”

He also reiterated that there are challenges being addressed in training that team needs to address, saying they should also “look at the aspects of the game that we didn’t do too well that we can do some work on the training pitch to make sure that we’re tighter when it comes to playing in bigger games.”

With three weeks until the opening game on March 5th, Atlanta will look to build on the impressive showing that it displayed in the game against Chattanooga when it takes on the Columbus Crew on Saturday, February 18th.