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Darren Eales talks Atlanta United’s roster, expectations

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Cautious, but optimistic.

MLS Atlanta Launch Event Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for MLS Atlanta

In an interview with FourFourTwo’s Paul Tenorio, Atlanta United president Darren Eales discussed the makeup of the club’s roster and what can be expected on the pitch come March 5th.

When asked why the front office would center an expansion team around international talent rather than MLS experience, Eales replied:

“We’ve been planning this for nearly two and a half years and we had a strategy and we’ve decided to go down the route we have,” Eales said. “We know it’s difficult as an expansion team. Just look at the record. We know it’s more difficult if the team wasn’t in existence, like NYCFC as compared to Orlando or Seattle, teams that had a culture and identity in place before they moved up to MLS. … It’s one thing to put a squad together on paper and to plan it out and it’s totally different out on the pitch and when you play games. What we tried to do was put together pieces to give ourselves the best opportunity of success.”

Eales stating the front office has planned for this international-heavy roster for nearly two and a half years is interesting. One can only wonder if they still would’ve gone in this direction had they not hired Tata Martino as coach. Martino’s impact on the inaugural roster is obvious, with the recruitment of top South American players like Miguel Almiron, Yamil Asad, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Josef Martinez and Carlos Carmona. It’s hard to imagine Atlanta United acquires almost any of those players without Martino.

Attempting to keep expectations subdued, Eales did promise this.

“The one thing we will have is an exciting team to watch and high-scoring games,” Eales said. “I can guarantee it’ll be some fun watching Atlanta United.”

It sounds like the club is going for it their inaugural season, and that’s great to hear from a supporter’s perspective. Even if 2017 doesn’t pan out the way everyone hopes, we can still fully expect entertaining soccer.

Good grief, can March 5th please get here already?