- By Doug Roberson The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez gave Atlanta United’s record-setting numbers of fans another reason to feel good about themselves Thursday.
Gonzalez Pirez spent part of his offseason in London visiting his best friend, Manuel Lanzini, a player for West Ham.
While in the city, Gonzalez Pirez attended two games: West Ham vs. Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, and West Bromwich vs. West Ham. (Curiously, Atlanta United President Darren Eales worked for Baggies and then Spurs).
Asked how the stadiums and crowds compared with Atlanta United and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Gonzalez Pirez said: “With the fans, it was so different. The fans, here, are amazing. They support for the whole game and they pay attention to the game all the time. That’s super for us. In England, it’s different. The people are more cold (because of weather; not temperament).
“I prefer here, the people.”
So, there you go.
Here are more excerpts from Gonzalez Pirez’s interview Thursday:
Q: What are your goals for this season?
A: We want to have an even better this season than we did last year. Last year, we had even higher expectations for our group. This year we want to try to win the league, or the Open Cup and we are going to work really hard to try to accomplish that.
Q: Franco Escobar said you reached out to him before he signed with Atlanta United. What did y’all discuss?
A: We talked, and I told him that he was coming to a great club in a great country. At first, he had his doubts just like anyone would coming to a new place.
He laughed a little bit about what I was telling him.
After these few days of training, he has come up to me and is laughing about it now, saying I was right about everything I was telling him.
Q: Is there one thing that you have focused on, looking back at last year?
A: We always have to improve in some things. We changed some players, and we’ve started to work for the new team and the formation and ideas.
Q: Martino said on Monday that y’all are going to experiment more with a three-man back line. What’s the biggest difference for you in a three-man back line compared to a four-man back line?
A: The biggest difference is because there’s a lot more space to cover and there are fewer defenders covering that space.
But I think that we have the players who are capable of playing in that system. We would just have to practice to get everything right.
It’s a higher risk in terms of defending, but it would help us attacking because we would put more people into the attack.
The press would have to do its job because it’s more stress on the defenders.