This past Saturday, Atlanta United 2 (abbreviated ATL UTD 2) hosted two scrimmages at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground. The first match (which lasted 45 minutes) was against Georgia State with the second match (another 45 minutes) was against Furman. The final match was between the two visiting schools.
The scrimmage was a good opportunity to see how the team have gelled over the past two months and where they need improvement. In the first match against Georgia State, ATL UTD 2 found a weakness in the Panther defense and continually pressed the left flank. They had many opportunities in the final third and many of them came to the feet of Yosef Samuel and Lagos Kunga. Kunga eventually found open space down the right flank and was able to curl in a howler just inside the 18.
In the second half against the Paladins, ATL UTD 2 came out with key players having swapped sides. With Lagos on the left (and more comfortable with his left foot) he played more of a supporting role while Laurent Kissiedou and Vixamar Deedson played more attacking positions in the center and the right flank. The highlight of the ATL UTD 2 v Furman scrimmage was a 20-yard free kick taken by Deedson near the far corner of the 18. His attempt sailed past the keeper but exploded off the woodwork back into play (and mind you, this is a U-17 Academy player).
Upon completion of the scrimmage for the day, I asked midfielder Jack Metcalf how he felt about the team’s overall performance. “We try to work on a few things, pressing, re-pressing when we turn the ball over, it’s all part of the process,” said Metcalf. “It wasn’t perfect but I think we’ve seen strides and we’re getting a little bit better with what we’ve been working on in training so it’s slowly getting to where we want to be.”
In the first scrimmage, we didn’t see many substitutions but we saw a handful in the second. So I asked manager Scott Donnelly if he was happy about their fitness. “We’re getting there, happy is probably too strong of a word (laughs) but we’re working on it, that’s the point of the preseason,” Donnelly stated. “We’re going to ramp it up as we go. All of our subs today were predetermined to make sure that each player was getting the right type of load physically in the two 45’s.”
The ATL UTD 2 season kicks off on Saturday, March 24 when they take on New York Red Bulls II at Coolray Field. You can see the schedule for their inaugural season as well as tickets.
Photo: Malcolm “X” Lewis