Atlanta United and USMNT defender Greg Garza was loaned to the club from LigaMX side Club Tijuana in December. Garza was absent from United’s training camp since he was on international duty with the USMNT and joined his teammates in Atlanta this week. Being one of the newer members of the team, and having had limited time to get to know his teammates, he says integrating the different cultures the team has brought together is key.
“The group is a super good group, you have a lot of different cultures involved,” Garza said after the club’s training session on Tuesday.
“Its pretty cool to see the gel and chemistry the team already has and I’m really hoping we can transfer that over to the field and make it a really good expansion season.”
Fans certainly have high expectations for the team coming into the club’s first season. The team has made several high profile signings with promising young attacking players, quality defenders, and players with plenty of international experience.
“With the players they’ve brought along I think the expectations are probably pretty high. We have a lot of international players and a lot of players that have actually had experience in MLS,” Garza said.
He stressed that the key to success would be how the team is able to come together in a new and different league.
“I would say we just have get these different cultures to gel as much as possible and see how we can do in the season. MLS is different than a lot of other leagues and we have a lot of guys coming from all over, and I can say the same for myself. We have to study the league as much as possible beforehand and hopefully it can help us have a really good season this year.”
Garza, who has experience with clubs in Portugal and Mexico, is coming to MLS for the first time. Though he has played against MLS players from his time with the USMNT, he will have to adjust to the new league.
“I think we just have to study the opponents as much as possible and see how the formations work out with all the talented young players we have on this team. The main thing is to focus on us more than anyone else in the beginning just to get that chemistry going and get everyone gelled and on the same page and on the page that Tata wants us to be on. Once we can figure that out we can study other opponents and see what this league has to offer”
The defender also spoke about his comeback from injury. Garza had hip surgery in 2015 and upon making a comeback with Xolos in the summer of 2016, he suffered a concussion in his second game which sidelined him for much of the season. He played 69 minutes in the US friendly against Serbia and says he is fully healthy.
“I feel great it’s been about four months injury free and feeling 120% so I’m ready to work and work my butt off,” said Garza.
Given that he was injured and suffered a set back, he said that “it’s a definitely game of patience to be out for about 11-12 months to me its just a blessing and very fortunate just to be able to touch a ball again, what a wonderful opportunity to start off with a new team and a pretty big new year for them.”