Atlanta United’s Garza on building chemistry with Barco

Jan 29, 2018
Greg Garza trains with Atlanta United last week. (Eric Rossitch / Atlanta United)

Greg Garza, soccer gypsy, found a permanent home when on Nov. 29 he signed with Atlanta United on a permanent transfer.

Garza was an important part of Atlanta United’s playoff pursuit last season. The left fullback created 32 goal-scoring chances in just 26 appearances.

But some of those came with Yamil Asad ahead of him as the left midfielder. This year, he will likely have a new partner in Ezequiel Barco.

“That’s just the sport,” Garza said. “It’s a bit of luck (and) off-the-field relationship. Everything just has to click. Myself and Yamil had an awesome relationship off the field as well. We understood each other to a point that we knew our positions on the field without looking.

“He was by far one of the hardest working guys on the field last year. It was tough to see him go but as I said we are gypsies in this sport, nothing is ever guaranteed.

“Hopefully, I can build the same chemistry with whoever plays. The chemistry has to be in tip-top shape for us to do as good as we did last year.”

Garza also spoke about his permanent home, his expectations for the season the new faces on the team for the upcoming season in a recent interview.

Q. Is there mentally a change that comes with no longer being on loan?

A. Not at all. Not at all. This is a competitive sport. We do this for a living. Nothing’s ever guaranteed in this sport so you can be at the top of the roller-coaster as much as you can be at the bottom of it. It’s definitely a challenge every year and hope we can build off the 2017 that I had personally and with this team.

We bought some pretty essential players that have the potential to make this team even bigger and I think that hopefully we can have an even bigger 2018.

Q. What are the expectations for this season?

A. We set the bar pretty high. It’s to have a better year this year. We definitely have to challenge ourselves and it started (at the start of training camp last week).

I think we bought the players, bought the names. It’s what this city wants and the coaches and directors it’s what they wanted.

It’s up to us on the field to bring it to the fans and show these people why we are here and hopefully have a better season than last year.

It’s not easy. From the outside it could seem like we have all the pieces put together, but it’s a jigsaw puzzle. You have to put the pieces together perfectly for it work.

Q. Have you faced (Darlington) Nagbe before, and what will he bring to the team?

A. Yes, I was with him in the last January camp with the national team. That was the first time I had met him. He’s good friends with a lot of the guys who were in residency with me when I was really young. He went to the same college as them.

He’s a great player. The potential he has is as a creator and hopefully he can be that creator for Miguel (Almiron) and Josef (Martinez) and even (Ezequiel) Barco once he gets along.

I know this season will be a bit difficult to score even more goals than we did last year but hopefully we can do the same.

Q. Gerardo Martino said that the team will work on using a three-man backline, which would push you up into a wingback role. Is there a huge difference in playing that and the traditional fullback in a four-man backline?

A. The concepts change as you grow. You have to learn the different concepts of playing different formations in your career. 

It’s something we will have to build on during the preseason.

In a 3-5-2, the wingback defends a little less. That could be a good thing, right?