Albert Elis. (MLS)

Atlanta United: Three questions answered about Houston

Atlanta United will begin its second season at Houston on Saturday. The game will start at 3:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on TV by Univision and on radio by 92.9FM.

Or you can just follow me on twitter (@DougRobersonAJC) for live updates.

The big news for Atlanta United this week is that midfielder Ezequiel Barco sustained a right quad strain and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

Manager Gerardo Martino is scheduled to meet with the media today so there may be more information on who will play in Barco’s spot.

This week, we bring back one of last year’s weekly elements: Ask a beat reporter.

Corey Roepken, who is in his third year covering MLS for the Houston Chronicle, answered three questions ahead of Saturday’s game. You can follow him on Twitter at @RipSports.

Q. Most important off-season acquisition?

A. Technically, Alberth Elis is not a new player but because he was on loan last season, the Dynamo had to finalize a full transfer if they wanted to keep him around. With 10 goals and four assists in his MLS debut season, Elis seems to be just scratching the surface of what could be a dominant run in the states.

Q. Which player has looked the best in preseason?

A. Elis already was going to stand out this season, but even his teammates have had to take a second glance at how great he has looked in February. They describe him as faster and more mature. Elis loves to score goals and will get his share, but the most value may come from the attention he demands in the final third. If his teammates make smart runs, they should be open often.

Q. Which player needs to step up?

A. Though he won’t play in Saturday’s opener because of his red card in last year’s playoffs, midfielder Tomas Martinez will be the key for the Dynamo’s attack. They won’t be able to surprise teams with their counter attacks this season, and they have been working more on their possession in the preseason. Learning how to score in the ‘half-court’ is perhaps the most important problem the Dynamo need to solve in 2018. Martinez is the central figure in that equation.