Hey guys and gals. Atlanta United’s four game preseason slate has mercifully come to a conclusion. It was ... uh ... it was 360 minutes of guys running around and kicking a ball. Yeah, that’s about it. Nothing mind-blowing happened. The team won a game, lost one and drew a couple. If it were the regular season we wouldn’t be happy at all. But it wasn’t, so who cares?
Now that we’re on to actual games that matter, let’s take one last look back on this nothingburger of a preseason. I don’t really have any clever way to frame this post that makes any sense whatsoever. Basically, I’m just going to go through the entire Atlanta United roster of players who played this preseason and give you some of my impressions of how they did. It may be analytical, it may be snarky, it may be uninformed. Here we go.
Miguel Almiron: Scored a nice consolation goal against Columbus. Otherwise was kind of quiet in the attacking end but it’s nothing to be concerned about. Once the adrenaline of meaningful soccer kicks in we should see the Miggy we know and love.
Mikey Ambrose: Started once and made a handful of sub appearances at left back. Didn’t hurt his cause at all and benefited from younger alternatives looking out of their element. It’s a coin toss between him and McCann as to who would replace Greg Garza if/when he gets hurt.
Ezequiel Barco: Started slow but was steady through the first two games. Always showing glimpses of his world class talent. Technical ability is off the charts with the end product sometimes missing. However, his solo screamer against Minnesota proved that he’s capable of being that go-to star that Atlanta need him to be. Now we wait and hope he manages stuff like that on a consistent basis.
Andrew Carleton: Exciting with every touch of the preseason. Proved he’s more than worthy of being one of the first names called on by Tata Martino when the team needs a spark off the bench. Let the Year of Carleton begin.
Franco Escobar: Save for Barco’s goal, nothing was more inspiring for Atlanta United’s 2018 prospects than the two performances we saw from Escobar. He didn’t put a foot wrong and just looked class any time he was on the ball. I loved Anton Walkes more than most, but it’s clear to see after just two run outs that Escobar will be a massive upgrade at the right back spot this season. Please don’t ever get hurt again.
Jon Gallagher: Played once. Missed one decent chance. Unfair to judge him yet. See you in Gwinnett?
Greg Garza: He did fine. Typical Garza stuff. Invest in a ton of bubble wrap.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez: If you’re not down with LGP, we can’t be friends. His name is already stitched on the captain’s armband as soon as Parkhurst departs.
Chris Goslin: Showed his immense promise in the few chances he received. It’s clear that he’s destined for Gwinnett and that’s probably what’s best for his long term development. Grab your AU2 tickets now because they are going to be extremely fun.
Julian Gressel: Oof. It’s hard to pick out any player who is expected to get regular minutes who had a worse preseason than the reigning Rookie of the Year. He just didn’t seem like the same player we saw last season. It was already expected that he’d be used off the bench when the team is fully healthy. Could he have fallen behind Carleton and Vazquez on the impact sub depth chart?
Brad Guzan: Had a few great saves. Had a few mistakes. Basically, he was Brad Guzan. Learn to love him because he’ll be here for a while.
Jose Hernandez: I’ll try to be as kind as possible here. He’s not ready for MLS. His inexperience was obvious and his defensive acumen leaves a lot to be desired. His technical ability is a redeeming factor and he’s adequate going forward, but he’ll get eaten alive on the defensive end at the MLS level. 50 Cent voice: “G-g-g-g Unit”
Mitch Hildebrandt: Sure. Whatever.
Alec Kann: See Mitch Hildebrandt.
Kevin Kratz: Good at free kicks! (And not much else)
Jeff Larentowicz: He was his typical self while playing center back. It appears he’ll be the CDM for the start of the season. Hopefully the fountain of youth we have installed in Marietta doesn’t run out of water in 2018.
Josef Martinez: One puddle-assisted goal. One David Banner ripped shirt. A lot of frustration and emotion. Hopefully 2017 Josef shows up once the games matter.
Chris McCann: The most expensive back-up left back in MLS history. A walking mistake when put anywhere centrally.
Darlington Nagbe: What you see is what you get. He’ll be a constant throughout the season. It’s up to the superstars around him to perform up to their expectations.
Michael Parkhurst: Fine. We’re in trouble if he gets hurt.
Miles Robinson: Got one chance and made several mistakes. He’ll likely be AU2-bound.
Oliver Shannon: Had one nice pass before Miggy’s goal. Looked steady, confident and intelligent in the midfield. Will likely get some chances this season as depth in the midfield isn’t great.
Brandon Vazquez: Had a nice finish against Nashville. Was relatively quiet in the CCC. He didn’t hurt his chances at playing time off the bench.
Tito Villalba: Was behind everyone else due to an injury. Showed his rust in the minutes he did get. It’s way too early to start doubting one of the team’s most influential players of last season. Give him some time to get in the groove.
Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu: A revelation in his start against Charleston. Why in the world was he left chilling while McCann was embarrassing himself in the midfield? While it’s just one match against a USL team, I feel a little better about our depth after seeing his quality and versatility.
Romario Williams: Scored a tap-in but otherwise didn’t take advantage of his minutes. It’s nothing to worry about. He’ll be the first striker off the bench and should score some goals this season.
Sal Zizzo: Had some bad moments but it’s still early. Let’s give him a chance to settle into his role before jumping to concrete judgments.
Tata Martino: Please play Carleton more. Thanks.