Games Played: 9 appearances, 8 starts
It’s not often a back-up left back has much of an impact during a season. However, when you’re tasked with backing up Greg Garza, a player with a history of injuries, it’s a different story. Sure enough, when Garza went down with a long term injury in May it was Mikey Ambrose’s time to step up. And step up he did. When you lose a player of Garza’s caliber, you expect a noticeable drop off. However, during Ambrose’s two-month long tenure in the starting lineup, there was virtually none at all. That’s about the biggest compliment we can give the journeyman defender.
What went right this season: When it was his time to carry the left back load, Ambrose provided continuity on that side of the field. He demonstrated adequate technical ability in a very technical demanding style. His ability to connect with wingers and midfielders and not slow down the attack was very important. While he’s not as attack-minded as Garza, he still offered something useful going forward as his two assists in nine games played shows.
What he needs to improve on: If there’s one knock on Ambrose it’s his defensive awareness and strength in duels. He lost his marker on occasion and also got beat out by bigger and stronger attacks too. So, while he may be a very good option going forward in the build up, his defending leaves some to be desired.
What role will he play in 2019: His weaknesses likely led Atlanta United to acquire Brek Shea in the offseason. This move leaves Ambrose’s position on the depth chart in question. With George Bello likely to get every chance to prove he’s worthy of more playing time and Shea in the mix, it could bump Ambrose down to third in the pecking order. But, thanks to the crowded fixture list of 2019, he still should have a role to play.