Leandro Gonzalez Pirez has become a bit of a fan favorite among Atlanta United supporters for his willingness to join an attack from a defensive position. Whether he’s making a long run with the ball from Atlanta’s own half, taking on opposing players who are attempting to tackle the large and free-spirited defender, or creating astounding opportunities like the one that set up a penalty against the Philadelphia Union last week, Pirez isn’t a typical center back.
If you ask Pirez, that’s exactly how he wants it. The Argentinian was taught early in his playing career to have no fear.
“When I was a former River Plate player, they tried to attack all the time,” said Pirez. “Their mentality was an offensive one for every player on the field. I grew up with this idea even though I’ve always played as a center back. One of my characteristics is to play with risk. I like to take risks because I think if you take them and you do well, you can produce with the attack. It’s my condition. I won’t negotiate this. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad, but I always try to play the same way.”
An unapologetic Pirez is the best kind of Pirez, and a testament to how comfortable he feels playing with Atlanta. It’s clear that Tata Martino wants him to continue being a creator from the backline and has no intention of telling him to settle down. This is who Leandro Gonzalez Pirez is. Love it or hate it, his playing style is here to stay.