After answering a few questions about the intricacies of Mate tea, Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino on Tuesday answered a few questions about the team as it rolls into its third week of training camp.
The team will play at Nashville SC on Saturday in its first preseason game before it competes in a tournament in Charleston.
Martino covered a few topics, some of which I’ll write about in stories that will post on myAJC later this week.
Q. Who is standing out at training camp? Any surprises?
A. I think the first thing to say, and the most important thing to highlight, is how well in shape all the guys showed up from their vacations. Sometimes when you come back from a long break guys are at different levels in terms of their fitness and you have to adjust the training sessions.
It’s impressive how in shape all of our guys returned and that’s based on some of the initial fitness tests we did. The guys did very well.
Q. How has Ezequiel Barco looked?
A. Good. He’s been progressing over the course of the week since the day he arrived.
From the end of the season until he joined us he had a difficult time with his situation in Independiente. Taking that into account, he has handled everything very well.
Q. Have you figured out the defensive midfield partnership yet?
A. We have a complete team on every line, but we are always conscious of different opportunities that come up to have another player come in.
That would happen to fill the weight of (Carlos) Carmona, someone to fill that holding midfielder role.
Q. But, for Nashville on Saturday, who would start if you ran two?
A. Most likely it would be (Jeff Larentowicz), with (Darlington) Nagbe and Miguel (Almiron), or (Chris) McCann with Nagbe and Miguel.
Q. How has Jose Hernandez looked?
A. Good. Of all the new guys we brought in he is probably the player I had seen the least of on action. But I think he can add stuff to our team. He’s a dynamic player. He will help us at left back and has a very good left foot. We will see over the course of the season how he is doing and developing and what his best role will be.
Q. What does Lagos (Kunga) need to improve?
A. Lagos started training with us last year. What he has to adjust to is the rhythm of playing in first division. He’s a player who is soccer-wise, very technically gifted. He has to maintain that rhythm that you play with in the top division.
Q. There were stories yesterday about the team selling Yamil Asad’s rights to D.C. United. I’m curious if you are disappointed in Yamil for not returning when he had offers from the team?
A. The truth is everyone wanted Yamil to stay: the players, the coaching staff, the directors, the fans. We all wanted him to stay.
In fact, the club offered him a contract for three years. The two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement.
In terms of the deal with D.C., we were able to get a good amount of money for Yamil’s rights and Yamil is probably getting a better contract than what we offered.
Q. Were you disappointed that Yamil made that decision?
A. No. I’m not someone to get involved in the financials of a player.
Q. Is there anyone on the team now that needs to improve in training camp?
A. Everyone needs to improve. Players, staff, everyone. We’ve only been training for two weeks. Everyone is working on evolving as team, incorporating the new players into the team and working on some new tactics that we’d like to add this year. But our goal is to enter the season in good form and to be ready for the tournament we are playing in Charleston.