Atlanta United 2’s first ever match is only a few days away. Normally a team with just 12 players officially on their roster would be scrambling at the moment, but this is different.
Their entire preseason has been centered around preparing for the inaugural season by learning from Atlanta’s first team and utilizing their parent club’s resources in a way that is mutually beneficial. This all begins by training alongside them almost every day.
“There are a lot of things we can get out of these sessions,” said AU2 head coach Scott Donnelly. “Our players see the level they’re trying to eventually get to.”
A.J. Cochran, a USL veteran, thinks practicing with the first team players can only benefit them.
“The energy is a little different. It’s just a cool opportunity to work with both Scott and Tata(Martino). Obviously concentration will be on the USL side, but any time we get to see how Tata runs his training sessions and have the chance to train with guys like Miguel(Almiron) and Josef(Martinez), it helps us.”
As for only having 12 players signed to USL contracts, Donnelly isn’t concerned.
“There’s not a particular plan to bring more guys in. We’re happy with the group that we have, and with the support of some of the first team guys that’ll play with us and maybe even some of the highest achieving academy guys...I think we’re OK.”
Kevin Kratz is one of many players that sees a golden opportunity for first team signees, saying that “it’s not bad to stay in rhythm” during an international break if some were to make appearances with the reserves from time to time.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how a group of USL and first team players, and maybe even potential academy standouts, come onto the field in hopes of being a cohecent, competitive unit. We don’t have to wait much longer to find out, as Cochran is quick to mention.
“I’m very excited to get out there and play in front of a whole new fanbase. I know the first team is off this weekend, so hopefully we can get a lot of fans to pack the stadium for our first game.”
Atlanta United 2 takes the field for the first time on Saturday, March 24 against New York Red Bulls II at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.