Atlanta United was lucky enough to have a week off from games this past weekend during international friendlies. For coaches and players this is a perfect time to reflect on the start of the season and to work out some issues that have occurred. Captain Michael Parkhurst went into detail on a few things they have been working on in training.
“Lots of individual and collective defending,” he said. “We are trying to do a better job of getting after the ball and winning it back when we lose it. The center backs were working on 1v1s in the box today so the more repetition's we get with that the better we get. We feel confident going into the weekend.”
Julian Gressel thinks it’s important for the team to stay competitive during this break that they have.
“We did a lot of small sided stuff to keep the competitiveness up and to get a good workout in,” said the German midfielder. “As a team we’ve been playing pretty well the last few weeks so the timing of the break is a bit unfortunate, but since we’ve got it we need to keep working and keep playing to maintain our form.”
According to Gressel staying competitive isn’t an issue for star striker Josef Martinez.
“That’s just who he is,” he said. “He’s not hiding it, he wants to score goals and help the team win. It doesn't matter if it’s a league game or even a little scrimmage game in training, he wants to win.”
If the game in Minnesota this weekend is anything like the one last year it will be important for players to do everything they can to stay warm. Temperatures in Minneapolis are expected to be well below freezing come game time.
“It helps to run a lot,” said Gressel. “I mean we experienced it last year so we are ready. When its cold like that you’ve got to be up for the game, don’t worry about the weather or the surface just go out there and try to be better than your opponent. It also hasn't been too warm here either so I guess the weather in Atlanta is helping us prepare.”
Michael Parkhurst had a little bit of a different take on how to deal with the cold.
“Hopefully we will score a lot of goals so us defenders will be able to run up to Josef and Miguel or whoever scores so we can hug everybody to use the body warmth.
Hopefully with all of the competitive preparations Atlanta United will be able to stay on track with a cold weather win in Minnesota on Saturday.