Who is Paul Christensen?
Paul Christensen is a 22 year old decorated former collegiate athlete from Woodinville, Washington. He was acquired by Atlanta in the 2018 SuperDraft, where he was selected 70th overall.
In college he played and started in all 72 games of his four year career at University of Portland, recording twenty clean sheets. In his final two seasons he was also voted West Coast Conference Goalkeeper of the year. During his time before college, Christensen played his soccer for the Seattle Sounders FC Academy, also earning caps at the international level for the US at both the U-15 and U-17 age groups.
An opportunity of a lifetime
The life of a backup goalkeeper can be a wild ride. One minute you’re sitting on the bench watching a game, but the next you could be thrown onto the field playing in front of 45,000 screaming fans. This was all too real for Atlanta United 2 goalkeeper, Paul Christensen on Wednesday night. After being signed to his second four-day contract by Atlanta United, Christensen was forced to enter the match, against Sporting Kansas City after starting goalkeeper Brad Guzan was given a straight red card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
There is something to be said for any player to hop right into an intense match like this with little-to-no warm up. After the game Christensen spoke about his thoughts and preparations during his crazy experience.
“I think it’s just going into the game preparing like I’m going to play, kind-of watching Brad and what he does. (Goalkeeper Coach) Aron (Hyde) said right before I went in that it’s just like training. I’ve seen some of the best guys in the league every day, so it’s nothing different, so just being confident in my game and confident in what I can bring to the table. I’ll try my best to help the team win the best I can.”
At a time like this it was important for Paul to be confident in himself, and communicate well, especially with the back line. His teammates were very complimentary of his performance and attitude during the game. Captain Michael Parkhurst was impressed how well he handled himself.
“He did great. It’s a tough spot for him, you know, just being called up for a few games, not thinking he’s going to play. To step in, down a man, I thought he did really well. He communicated well. He made that big save for us early in the second half. So, kudos to him for being ready and stepping up in a tough spot.”
Veteran midfielder Jeff Larentowicz was also impressed with the young goalkeeper.
“I thought he did really well. You can see in the second half he was called upon to make a few saves. As soon as he gets on the field, I think his distribution is good. I can hear him communicating as well. He didn’t shy away from the occasion.”
Now for the question you’ve all been wondering about:
As of right now the goalkeeping situation for this weekend is unclear, but there is a chance that Christensen will see more action against rival Orlando City in just a few short days.
What are your thoughts on this goalkeeping situation that Atlanta United has found themselves in? Let us know in the comments.