- By Doug Roberson The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta United began the second week of training camp in Florida on Tuesday under cloudy, windy, cold conditions.
But the day got a little brighter when the team began posting photos of Ezequiel Barco’s arrival in Orlando around 11 a.m.
Coincidentally, that’s also when the sun broke through the slate gray clouds.
After finishing the team’s morning training session, manager Gerardo Martino returned to the resort by walking across a golf course. He first cracked a joke about making sure that there weren’t any alligators between he and the hotel (he and the coaches saw at least one near the course during the combine in Orlando two weeks ago). Then in a conversation with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Martino spoke of the excitement of not just working with Barco but all of the players, the impact of losing Carlos Carmona, how they may replace him and how the draft picks are performing.
Q. What is your goal for the team for training camp here in Florida?
A. The goal this week is, first, to continue to work on the team’s physical training, getting the guys into shape. But also incorporate some with the ball in every session and also begin working on some specific tactics that we will get into later in the week with the goal of hopefully being able to have a scrimmage on Saturday.
Q. How big of a loss is Carlos Carmona?
A. He transformed into a very important player for us. Now, our job is to try to replace him as best as we can. Really, to try to help us hold in the midfield like he did.
Q. Will you continue to use two holding midfielders as you did last year with Jeff (Larentowicz) and someone else?
A. We have the capabilities of playing like we did for a lot of the season last year when it was Jeff and Carmona. Now, we have Jeff and we also have players like (Darlington) Nagbe and Julian (Gressel) who can play in the midfield with Jeff. We have alternatives.
Q. Do you have anyone in mind that can be signed to replace Carmona?
A. We are looking at different options. I can’t say precisely who the players are in mind. But we are looking at different options that we have, always keeping in mind the economic considerations.
Q. And does having to sell Carmona affect the plan for Chris Goslin, who you said last week would likely get most of his minutes this season with the USL team, Atlanta United 2?
A. It’s natural for the younger guys to get minutes with the USL team. But it will also have to do with whether or not we have a replacement for Carmona. That would affect the situation.
Q. How are the draft picks looking?
A. They’ve looked good in training, both physically and technically. We will see over the course of the year what our plans for them are, whether it’s with the first team or the second team.
Q. Are you excited to get to work with Ezequiel Barco as soon as tonight or tomorrow?
A. I’m excited about working with the whole team. It’s clear that Ezequiel is an important new face on our team. He’s probably the biggest signing not just for us, but for the league.
It makes sense that people are talking about that.
But I’m excited to work with everybody. The new players, Jose Hernandez, Franco Escobar, Darlington Nagbe and we are happy about the guys who are still here (Martino then recited a list that included almost every player on the team).
But we can’t leave out anyone who helped us have such a great season last year.
Q. Because he is a week behind everyone, how will you integrate Barco into the training schedule to get him up to speed as quickly as possible?
A. We will evaluate him when he gets here and will make sure his incorporation into the team is progressive. It will depend upon what kind of shape he is in. We aren’t in a hurry. We want to incorporate him into the team as best as possible.
The season is still a way’s away, so we aren’t in a hurry.