Atlanta United hope draw against Orlando, Marcelino Moreno debut can be turning point

Marcelino in training - Atlanta United

This season hasn't gone to plan so far, but Atlanta United are hopeful that they turned a corner this week. 

Atlanta beat D.C. United 4-0 then fought for a 0-0 draw against Orlando City to jump back above the playoff line and will soon welcome new Designated Player Marcelino Moreno for his MLS debut.

The Argentine, signed from Lanus on September 22 after Pity Martinez was transferred, is in Atlanta and will be done with his mandated quarantine in time to be available for selection on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls (6 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US; on DAZN in Canada)

“You’re starting to seeing the confidence and competence in the group," technical director Carlos Bocanegra told reporters on a virtual press conference on Thursday. "We hope it’s a turning point for us, plus a much-needed offensive spark from Marcelino is going to be very much welcomed for us.”

Marcelino still has yet to physically meet his teammates, as the player has been able to only conduct individual training since arriving in the country. Saturday is the first day he'll be able to join the group, so if he's selected to the matchday squad, he'll debut before taking part in a single training session with his new teammates. 

The 25-year-old midfielder can play through the center or as a winger. Atlanta are cautiously optimistic about what he can add to the team immediately but cautioned it may take some time before fans see the best of Marcelino. 

“Marcelino had a decent amount of preseason in Argentina with Lanus, but we can’t expect him to come in and hit top form from day one," Bocanegra said. "He’s a great professional, he’s looking fit to us and we hope he has an impact but we have to give him a few games to settle, understand his teammates and the league. We think he’ll have a good chance to hit the ground running, but we need to build expectations week by week.”

Marcelino is far from the first high-priced attacker to come to MLS from Lanus. He follows former Atlanta star Miguel Almiron as well as Portland Timbers pair Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco

“One of the main things that drew me to Atlanta was the fan base," Marcelino said through a translator. "They have a spectacular fan base, it’s something that caught my attention. Also the fact that the club can be a jumping point to Europe.”