Good morning everybody. I’ll be arriving at my computer with, hopefully, a hot cup of coffee and some answers to your questions this morning at 9 a.m. We have a few that trickled in yesterday via Twitter that I’ve answered here in the meantime.
If you have questions, just leave them in the comments, and I’ll paste them them into this post.
EDIT: I’ve answered pretty much all the questions at this point (not counting duplicate/similar questions) so I’m going to leave it here. Feel free to keep leaving questions and I may try to jump in here later this afternoon and get to some more. Thanks for all your participation! Let us know in comments or on social if you’d like us to do more of this kind of thing. Thanks all.
10:16 How many media were there? I heard a question from the AP, which surprised me, and it seemed like all the local TV stations covered it. Were there more, less, or about the same amount of media there as there were for Tata? Greggtsch
I was not at Tata’s introductory press conference, but it had to have been more. Even V103 (The People’s Station!) was there. The AP reporter, Paul Newberry, covers almost all the home games, so that one wasn’t much of a surprise to me. It was a large contingent though, probably about 50ish media people there? I’m bad at this kind of thing... more than I expected, let’s put it that way.
9:47 (moving to Twitter now until we get more in the comments here) Does anyone else think Pity is probably already an #ATLUTD player and is just (conveniently) getting to have his holidays? The players from last season last played on 12/8, he played 12/22 so should have a couple weeks extra
9:42 So FDB is a 4-3-3/3-4-3 kind of guy? Don’tConteYourHorsesBeforeTheyHatch
Traditionally with Ajax, he was a 4-3-3 guy. But that’s because those player are trained in that system from the time they are kids, so they have full comprehension and they know how to win that way. I think it’s impossible to tell what he’s going to go with at this point, but after what he said in his press conference, he will go with whatever gives the team the best chance to win. He’s not so much about being dogmatic with a philosophy, and fortunately with this team, he doesn’t need to be. Much of what Tata Martino instilled derives from the revolution in modern tactics brought about by Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff with Total Football (interchanging positions, possession, playing with a high line, etc.).
9:36 With Escobar injured who is playing RB in 11v11 practices? WarMachineRox
As you might expect, it’s been Julian Gressel playing RWB in a back 3. I will continue to say though, I wouldn’t take much, if any, stock in the tactical stuff in training right now. I think de Boer is mainly just setting them up in the most similar way to the way Tata Martino deployed them last year to make them comfortable and free on the pitch.
9:33 Is there any reason to sell Tito? ATLizard
Potentially, but I don’t see it happening. Tito is too important of a piece and Atlanta is too close to the start to the season (under a new manager, no less) that I’m sure would make Atlanta even more hesitant to move him if a tempting offer came in. I think there’s reason to believe that Villalba could perhaps have been unsettled toward the end of last season. After several injuries in what had to have been a frustrating year personally, he lost his place in Tata’s starting XI. Martino’s leaving could have exacerbated any issues he was already having. But he’s still here, and considering how close we are to the start of the year, it’s hard for me to see this happening.
I received a question on Twitter asking if he’d be more valuable to move inside the league considering he has a green card and doesn’t count as an international in MLS. While it’s true he’s more valuable in MLS, I don’t see a team offering offer a hefty DP transfer fee in order to bring him in. If they pay that fee, he’d probably be a DP for the duration of his time at the club. I think he’s great value at the number Atlanta has him at now, and if MLS roster rules weren’t so arcane, I could definitely see a domestic transfer. I think those league rules are the reason we don’t see more higher-profile players, especailly internationals, moving from one MLS team to another.
9:23 New Home Kit release date? @NorthGA Tiger
This is a closely held secret that I don’t know the answer to. I’d guess they will make the unveiling an event similar to last year’s open training. I have to think it will happen before they leave for their training camp in California, but I could be wrong.
9:21 What do you think has a bigger impact on the future of the MLS: one of the best young talents in the league, Josef, signing a huge extension or the inevitable sale of Miguel to hopefully a PL club or larger Spanish/German club? Elijah_Newsome
Love this question. I think it’s the sale. And not only is it the sale, but it’s then the performances of these players at their new clubs that will truly convince teams that MLS is a good market from which to buy goods. Why do we have our favorite grocery stores that we always go to? Aside from pure convenience, it’s that we know they have what we want and we know exactly what we’re getting. It’s the same with football clubs. And if MLS is to be truly revolutionized, it has to become entangled in the web that is the global transfer market. If Miguel Almiron, Alphonso Davies, Tyler Adams, etc. do well, those teams will want to come back for more. And when they do, MLS clubs can hold out for bigger fees.
9:15 In the past you’ve commented on how upbeat Carleton has been when talking to the media and he seems to be a very positive guy. With what happened at the end of last season, does that seem to have changed at all as far as his demeanor? Are there any dark clouds around him or does he seem to have moved on and is still happy with the club? - jbailey86
Andrew is no doubt a happy-go-lucky guy, and I even think I said at the time that it can be a blessing and a curse — a double-edged sword. I think we all know the positives to this type of character. As fans, we love it and identify with it. But a certain level of professionalism must be maintained or there will be pitfalls that can extend far beyond the playing field. I think Carleton grew frustrated and maybe disengaged with the team as time wore on last year having not received the playing time he perhaps expected. I should state now that this shouldn’t be laid at the feet of Tata Martino. My favorite manager and one of Tata’s colleagues, Mauricio Pochettino, said it best: When a player signs a contract, they are paid to train. Their level of performance in training is what determines whether the manager will select them to play or not. But their duty is to train and consistently make themselves available.
Carleton is still young. There’s lots of time for him in his career, no matter what ominous forecasts you’ll see from national pundits who are disgruntled by his lack of minutes. But he needs to recognize what is helping him and what is hurting his chances of breaking into the starting XI, and systematically take steps to optimize his chances. It might sound scientific and boring, but this is what being a professional is all about.
9:06 a.m. The idea of de Boer being more of a Louis van Gaal acolyte scares the hell out of me after watching how boring and ineffective in attack Manchester United became under van Gaal. What will stop that type of insipidness in attack from happening here in Atlanta under de Boer? - dawgfan1995
I figured this would be a fear as soon as it came out of de Boer’s mouth, but it shouldn’t be. I’d caution people in allowing their sole memories of Louis Van Gaal’s career to be encapsulated in two seasons at Manchester United, where he took over a side that had crumbled under David Moyes. He did win a trophy there after all, and while he never won a league (or really came close), it’s important to remember that there are tons of mitigating factors when it comes to managing a club like Manchester United. It’s less a football club and more a business at this point.
That said, yes, the Van Gaal style is more defensively principled than the Total Football roots from which it came. De Boer himself has spoken about his tactical framework has always been about setting up a team’s defensive foundation first. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that necessarily, especially for this Atlanta United team. Atlanta will have no problem scoring goals and making the game entertaining.
Tactically does de Boer typically like to press teams defensively? - @Cole_Morton10
Thanks for the question Cole. Sure, but maybe not as much as we saw from Tata Martino’s team in 2017. In Tata’s first year, he utilized a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 that was extremely Bielsian — meaning an extremely aggressive and risky approach. Frank de Boer said in his introductory press conference that he’s been most influenced tactically by the likes of Louis Van Gaal, whose style is a bit more defensive and a bit more structured than the free-flowing Total Football style of Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels. There will certainly be trigger for the team to press, such as backpasses to the goalkeeper, a defender on the ball who turns to face his own goal line, etc. But it won’t be crazy aggressive.
Preseason friendly schedule? - @PageJeremy
Jeremy, I don’t have specific details and I don’t know who they will be playing in friendlies, but I understand that they will depart for their preseason training camp shortly after the close of the transfer window and they will be there for two weeks. I imagine we’ll have more concrete details on this sooner rather than later.
Why hasn’t an agreement for Miguel Almiron been completed? - @kyledsoto
Hi Kyle, this one’s pretty simple — no one has matched the fee that team president Darren Eales is demanding right now. If Miguel is not upset at playing in Atlanta for another six months, then there’s really very little pressure to sell, despite the arrival of a fourth Designated Player in Pity Martinez. What will likely have to happen is that the cub will need to send Ezequiel Barco on loan (and pay a good chunk of his salary while he’s playing elsewhere). Still, if that’s the price you have to pay in the short term in order to get the $5-10 million more that you think you’ll get for Almiron, it’s a prudent solution.
Whats the deal with our new DP (Dion)? What do we know about his skill set/ ability. Do we expect him to be first time this year? A sub? Maybe ATL 2? - @ComradeHarrison
Comrade! Pereira (a name I still can’t spell properly on the first try) is currently training in a wide midfield role, but as I’ve said and will continue to say, what the media has seen of the 11 v 11 session so far is not very tactical — it’s mostly for fitness and evaluation purposes. In my opinion, he’s pretty far down the pecking order in what is undoubtedly the strongest attacking unit in the league. I think an Atlanta United 2 loan is the most likely solution, especially if he occupies an international slot.
What are the chances de Boer is successful in Atlanta? How similar are his tactics to Tata’s and will they transfer naturally or will there be a period of adjustment that may cause a slow start to the season? - @CarterWoodward4
Thanks for the question Carter. I explained a bit of the tactical aspect above, but my overarching feeling at this point is that his success or failure won’t hinge on whether he gets the tactics spot on. His success will ride on 1) whether he gets full commitment and buy-in from the players on implementing his game plans, 2) how aggressive he feels he can push the players without losing them, and 3) how smartly he rotates the squad. Tata Martino built a team and system that de Boer can no doubt work with. I think the challenge is primarily in how he’s able to manage the group of players.
On Feb. 1, if we haven’t completed a transfer with Miggy, do you think we can expect a same day announcement on a Pity acquisition and a Barco loan? @ChiefsSteve
Good question, Steve. First of all, I’d be shocked if Pity hasn’t already been announced by the end of the transfer window, regardless of Almiron’s situation. But more to your question, no I don’t think we’d necessarily see an immediate announcement on deadline day for a Barco loan... because the Argentine window doesn’t close until February 20. There will be plenty of time to work out a loan after the European window closes, which adds a bit of leverage to Eales’ hand. He can literally push it to the last minute of the window, and if the deal he wants hasn’t come in, he won’t sell.
For fun. With about 2 weeks left in the transfer window and the rumor mill at full speed who would you peg as the hardest player for ATL UTD to replace. I say Gressel due to his versatility. @B_Gench13
Gressel is a good call. I’d personally say Leandro Gonzalez Pirez. He’s been a stalwart for Atlanta United’s back line his entire tenure in Atlanta, and he’s the perfect compliment to another center back like Michael Parkhurst or Jeff Larentowicz. He’s Atlanta’s most well-rounded center back and a team leader to boot. I really don’t know what this team would do without him.