Following wins against the Philadelphia Union and the New York Red Bulls, Atlanta United played its 3rd friendly of the preseason against Swedish side IF Elfsborg on the campus of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. While the match was closed to the public, it was the first one of the preseason that was streamed, so fans were able to get their first look at the 2020 team as it stands now.
- Atlanta United went with a 3-man back line with Miles Robinson, Fernando Meza and Franco Escobar. Edgar Castillo and Brooks Lennon were the wingbacks, while Eric Remedi and Emerson Hyndman were the midfielders. In the attack, Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco played on either side of Josef Martinez. Brad Guzan got the call in goal.
- Jake Mulraney replaced Castillo and Alec Kann took over for Guzan after the halftime break while homegrown player George Campbell and Jeff Larentowicz saw time, along with other names like Mo Adams, Adam Jahn, ATL UTD 2 teammates Phillip Goodrum and Laurence Wyke, and Academy players Will Reilly and Tyler Wolff late in the match.
- Atlanta United’s lone goal came in the 55th minute as Pity Martinez made it 3 goals in 2 matches with a pretty right-footed finish. Here’s hoping Pity’s second MLS season gets off to a better start than his first, and if preseason’s any indication, we have a lot to look forward to.
- Elfsborg came close on a couple of chances, with Hyndman making a great last-gasp tackle to take the ball off of his man’s foot and a goal scored in the 22nd minute that was ruled to be offside. It would go on to level the match in the 66th through Jesper Karlsson on a little miscommunication along the Atlanta backline. That, and the near miss in the first half, were probably the most glaring mistakes by the defense as they showed pretty well throughout the game. Meza, for his part, had a good debut with the Five Stripes.
- Brooks Lennon had a strong performance on the wing. It will take him some time to gain chemistry with the attackers if that’s where he’s scheduled to be throughout the year, but he showed his pace on the right side and nearly connected with a couple of crosses in the box. Mulraney had some good spells of possession in his time on the field, too.
- Barco was impressive, showing his skill with a number of runs into the Elfsborg defense and nearly scoring on a free kick that ended up hitting the top of the crossbar. Elfsborg were physical for much of the match as the Argentinian went to ground a number of times that might be atypical of a friendly, so hopefully we see him stay healthy and play to his full potential this season as he’s a fun player to watch when he’s clicking.
- Josef Martinez didn’t score - he did come close as he received a ball in the box but was unable to get it from between his feet.
- Atlanta did struggle with the ball when Elfsborg pressed. That’s something we’ve seen time and time again from this club over its first three seasons; hopefully this is the year they are finally able to solve that problem.
Overall, it wasn’t a perfect afternoon, but it was a good way to close out Atlanta’s time in Florida. The team will head home before continuing its preseason with a friendly against USL Championship side Birmingham Legion FC next Saturday.